So You Want Change?

The majority usually does, yet is appears as if only the minority actually does anything about it.  Take the advocacy group, As You Sow, for example.  Since early March, they have been on the receiving end of publicity in the food world as a result of their appeal to Dunkin’ Donuts concerning titanium dioxide.  This is a whitening agent in the company’s powdered sugar that is sprinkled on various baked goods.  Representatives from As You Sow took action against Dunkin’ Donuts usage of titanium dioxide because they feel as though it is a “nanomaterial” that is damaging to the health of humans who ingest it (Horovitz).

We see the back and forth that occurs between advocacy groups and major companies quite frequently.  However, what I think makes this particular campaign stand out from others similar of its kind is that the announcement that Dunkin’ Donuts will remove titanium dioxide from future products was not made by the company itself.  Instead, As You Sow released a comment about how Dunkin’ Donuts has complied with the objectives that the advocacy group had outlined.  Do you think that Dunkin’ Donuts missed out on a publicity opportunity and a possible platform for health in not being the first to announce this news?  Of course, the Dunkin’ Brands chief communications officer, Karen Raskopf, did mention the following (to USA Today) after the As You Sow announcement, stating: “The ingredient used in our powdered doughnuts does not meet the definition of ‘nanoparticle’ as outlined under FDA guidance.  Nevertheless, we began testing alternative formulations for this product in 2014, and we are in the process of rolling out a solution to the system that does not contain titanium dioxide” (Horovitz).

Later on in the exchange between USA Today and Dunkin’ Donuts, Karen Raskopf went on to affirm that “Dunkin’ Brands understands that investors are increasingly interested in the sustainability of the companies in which they invest. As part of our ongoing stakeholder engagement process, we recognize the importance of engaging in productive, ongoing dialogues with our investors to understand and address their concerns, as appropriate” (Horovitz).

Do you believe that the only way for businesses and brands to survive the current of knowledge that is being driven in waves towards consumers and advocacy groups is to comply with them?  How do you think that advertising and public statements will play a role in the level of leadership that these companies project in the future?  Please let me know!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Horovitz, Bruce. “Dunkin’ to stop using whitening agent.” USA Today Mar. 2015: Gannett Co. Incorporated, Web. 14 April 2015. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/03/06/dunkin-donuts-fast-food-restaurant-food-safety/24524875/>

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4 thoughts on “So You Want Change?

  1. Sam L.

    Ah, titanium dioxide appears to be added to the list of “suddenly dubious chemicals,” now, does it? 😉 I’m actually totally clueless about the chemical besides the fact that it is THE white paint pigment (it actually replaced lead, I think), but some googling says that it is likely slightly toxic– if inhaled regularly. Which makes sense, as inhaling any of a number of particles typically causes problems such as lung cancer. So it’s probably not great to have in powdered sugar on your daily doughnut, although I wouldn’t freak out about it in other places given today’s data.

    Once again, I’m putting out another dose of skepticism. I just realized that being a biochem major next year might lead to a more informed opinion from me in the future, but we’ll see what happens…

    1. Absolutely! It will be fascinating to see how your education and laboratory experiences as you pursue the study of biochemistry will either reaffirm or change your thought process concerning the chemicals that are apparent in the majority of our foods. I have always stood strong in the conviction that thoughtful questions, and the degree to which we ponder our food choices will positively impact the future of our farms and our factories. I look forward to seeing how your viewpoints change with your studies… please keep us posted! Thank you for commenting.

  2. Alexandra

    Thank you for another great blog Katie! I think this is a very interesting topic to learn about, as the average consumer normally doesn’t see this side of food. If Dunkin’ Donuts put that announcement out first, they put themselves in a dangerous position. You can’t fight with a fact of science, and if they had made that announcement themselves, the company may have risked direct questioning of why that hadn’t changed this ingredient before. They very obviously had known the health affects of titanium dioxide all along. I feel that the average consumer needs to be better educated on topics like this and you are definitely a part of that education Katie! Thanks again!

    1. That’s a great point that you bring up about the level of awareness that companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts have. It is critical for consumers to hold food corporations and eateries responsible for the ingredients that they are using, as well as the places that they are sourcing these same ingredients from. I agree that consumers must be educated about the nutritional quality of their food choices, because as education increases, the standards that we hold food corporations and eateries to will also rise. Thank you for commenting, Alexandra!

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