The American Egg Board's members are appointed by the FDA, and it was they who funded a secrets, deceptive smear campaign against startup Hampton Creek's vegan egg replacement.
From paying food bloggers to post egg-heavy recipes to buying Google ads that returned results for eggs to people searching for Hampton Creek, to lobbying food experts, animal-rights activists and others to speak out in favor of the poultry industry, the AEB pulled out all the stops to undermine their competition.
The campaign was seen by the dark princes of PR at Edelman, the same agency that oil companies use to rig public opinion on climate change.
The cache of 600 pages of AEB emails, first reported last week, was obtained by Ryan Shapiro, a Freedom of Information Act (Foia) expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Washington DC-based Foia specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.
The messages show Ivy, who is set to leave the AEB at year’s end after being named the industry’s 2015 Egg Person of the Year, received many messages from egg producers and processors who make up the board’s constituent members, are required by law to supply its budget and were evidently unnerved over the rise of Hampton Creek.
Ivy expressed a desire to push back at the positive media coverage the company would start to receive, from the pages of Forbes magazine to Buzzfeed and beyond.
“We know that shell egg producers are [...] feeling threatened by the introduction of this product,” she wrote in a September 2013 email.
In a statement to the Guardian, Ivy said the AEB’s efforts to “balance existing media efforts” were “common” practice and “part of a larger business strategy”.
US-appointed egg lobby paid food blogs and targeted chef to crush vegan startup [Sam Thielman/The Guardian]
(Image: Broken egg orange, Goldmund100, CC-BY)