Egging Us On?

4 Oct
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by Benjamen Johnson

While grocery shopping with my son this morning, something caught my eye in the dairy aisle. I had just grabbed a dozen eggs and was closing the door when I spotted something that disturbed me. Of course being a technophile I had not one, but two cameras on my person — so I quickly took a shot which I posted below. Take a look and remember your first impression before you continue reading.

Fights Breast CancerSo, what was your first impression? Mine was that Eggland’s Best had gone over the top and was claiming their eggs fought breast cancer. I was a little perturbed. I know the FDA is very lenient on what companies can claim about their products, such as boosts your immune system or can help lower cholesterol, but fighting breast cancer sounded like it was crossing the line to me[1].

The whole way back home I was plotting my next moves: looking up research on the health benefits of eggs, searching the ‘net to see is anybody else noticed this, finding the right agencies to voice a complaint, etc… When I did get in front of a computer the first thing I found was this page on the Eggland’s Best website.

Quoting their website:

Through November 15, 2011, Eggland’s Best will feature the signature “EB” stamp with the Susan G. Komen Running Ribbon on all varieties of EB farm fresh eggs.  We will also be donating $50,000 to support Susan G. Komen in their pledge to end breast cancer forever.

Eggland’s Best is America’s #1 Egg.  Over the next few months, millions of cartons of Eggland’s Best Pink Dozen eggs with the Komen Running Ribbon will be sold throughout the United States.  These special eggs will bring increased awareness to this very important cause.

Okay, so they are trying to raise breast cancer awareness and donating a good chunk of change to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a charity which my wife and I do support, but that’s not the impression I got from the display in the picture. I do believe that some people in the company truly believe in the cause, but I’m also sure it was no mistake that the display was designed to give you the impression that if you ate their eggs they would fight cancer in your body. Unfortunately there’s not much that can be done about that, other than to call it to your attention as another example of how to skirt the rules.

With my anger deflated I decided to write about the experience because there are a few lessons here.

  1. We  need to temper our enthusiasm for fighting pseudoscience and misleading claims with cold logic and research, not go flying off the handle every time we see something that upsets us.
  2. Even though companies can do good deeds, if there’s a way a marketing department can twist the good deed into an inflated claim for their product, they will.

References:

  1. Sept 2009. Claims That Can Be Made for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements. US FDA website. Retrieved Oct 4th, 2011 from http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/labelclaims/ucm111447.htm
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2 Responses to “Egging Us On?”

  1. Priscilla October 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Most women would know immediately that the sign meant the company was donating part of their profits. We’re used to noticing products that say the same thing or something very similar. In fact, my first reaction was, “Why are you reacting?”

    • Benjamen Johnson October 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

      I’ve seen the pink ribbon, pink vacuums, pink trash cans, etc… before, but I’ve never noticed a sign next to a product that says: “Fights Breast Cancer.” Thus my reaction.

      If everybody does it, it still is misleading, unfortunately not misleading enough for the government to take action.

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