a recent example of a common tactic– corporate “sponsorship” of health experts to legitimize health claims on products that are quite simply void of nutritional value and paint their producers, like PepsiCo, in a favorable light.
this old trend is facilitated by our die-hard devotion to all things “scientific” in this country, which is the only PepsiCo would ever try to pose as a research entity.
the meat of this article isn’t that stimulating- again though, it speaks to the relentless drive Big Food and its allies have to worm their way into the public health/research/political sphere to up sales.
But PepsiCo didn’t stop there. PepsiCo plucked its latest plum from the tried and true depository of scientific experts: the U.S. government. In late 2009, Dr. George Mensah became PepsiCo’s “Director of Heart Health and Global Health Policy.” Previously, Dr. Mensah (a native of Ghana) spent nearly a decade with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helping lead the federal agency’s efforts to fight strokes, heart attacks, heart disease and colorectal cancer. But his government career got trumped by Cheetos
it’s not as one-sided as Simon might help you think, but trust that there’s a hefty sum involved for characters like Dr. Mensah, who range from ex-Congressmen, to anti-Big Food lobbyists, to folks like Yach who were once at the forefront of exposing corporate (non)ethics.
I don’t want to make it sounds like the big bad food monster is just never going away. Partnerships with food companies/producers and health agencies have seldom let to any constructive programming, though. Marion Nestle talks about this all the time. a typical outcome is PR and guidelines for consumers who want to healthy that dictate what products should be bought and what healthy behaviors should be sought after… this fails to address the quality of food products and the strategic marketing that surrounds them which are determined by food companies.
To recap: Since 2007, PepsiCo has hired at least three noted international experts in medicine, science and public health. Their pedigrees span the world’s premier public health organization, America’s top public health governmental agency and the most respected medical and research academic institutions. Not bad HR recruitment.
regardless of which expert’s rep has been appropriated for corporate PR, the agenda remains the same: emphasize consumer responsibility- SOLELY consumer responsibility- for food choices and poor health. avoid any acknowledgement of regulation, reform or responsibility on behalf of corporate producer at all costs. these PR ploys are merely a distraction from the endless dollars that go into marketing all of the useless junk that’s on the market…i mean.. “food”- and paying lobbyists to fight for protective policies.
PepsiCo isn’t a leader in public health solutions, and I daresay that its ethics only matter insofar as it can convince consumers that it cares. These corporations exist to produce, market and sell products– which isn’t a crime…They just need to stop pretending to be anything more.