Thursday, October 18, 2007

National Pork Board removes "Counting Carbs?" slogan and logo from websites

The federal government's National Pork Board recently removed its low-carb marketing slogan and logo from its websites, following my petition to the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in August.

Although the federal government's Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee strongly criticized low-carb marketing, and the Dietary Guidelines themselves emphasize calorie balance rather than fad dieting, the government's beef and pork checkoff programs have skirted the edges of low-carb diet promotion for several years.

The Pork Board's low-carb slogan and logo were still on the Pork Board's websites last month.

The explicit low-carb marketing cannot be found there now.

Lloyd Day, administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, responded to my petition in a letter dated October 11.
In response to your concerns regarding the "Counting Carbs? Pork's Perfect" slogan, which you identified on a Board Web site, AMS contacted the Board and determined they are no longer using this slogan or symbol in any advertisements. This 1-year campaign ran in 2003 in conjunction with the low-carbohydrate diet trend, and the Web site you referenced has been inactive since 2003 and consequently removed.
The Pork Board’s website for food services formerly recommended low carb marketing: “There’s no denying that the low-carbohydrate/high-protein phenomena has taken the food world by storm. According to some reports, up to 50 million consumers have tried some type of low-carbohydrate diet plan.” The website favorably quoted a “leading” chef, Marlin Kaplan, saying, “There’s no denying this diet. If you are a restaurant operator not offering high-protein, low-carb options on your menu, then you are not listening to your customer.”

In his response to my petition this month, Mr. Day said that the Pork Board's campaign did not promote a low carb diet or lifestyle.
Regarding all of the Board's campaigns, AMS takes special precaution to review promotional materials before they are released to the public. In the case you referenced, AMS concluded that the Board was not promoting a low-carbohydrate diet or lifestyle, but instead promoting pork as an alternative to other protein products for consumers that have elected a low-carbohydrate diet or lifestyle.
The success of this recent petition, and an earlier public-interest group petition to end high-calcium fad-diet marketing for dairy products, is likely to be followed by further public interest in making sure the USDA-sponsored checkoff programs are consistent with the federal government's Dietary Guidelines.

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