One of the world’s largest privately held companies faced a reputational crisis when a major U.S. news network began questioning the safety and quality of its U.S. ground beef. The reports falsely speculated that the client was using potentially harmful chemicals to kill bacteria while processing the meat. The company’s reputation was further strained when activist shoppers began uploading videos of the company’s ground beef across Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube that questioned its quality and use of a filler, which they described as “pink slime.” As the videos went viral, speculation spread that most of the client’s ground beef was really “pink slime,” and consumers began questioning the safety of finely textured beef (FTB). The rapidly spreading misinformation campaign had such a negative impact on the client’s bottom line that it was contemplating shutting down its entire beef business.
The client turned to evolve24 to help it better understand the public’s perceptions and to identify and counter misinformation regarding its meat processing operations. It sought insights into the opinions of consumers regarding the use of lean, FTB techniques within its production – which reduce the amount of waste created when large pieces of raw meat are cut up and discarded. Our findings would help the client decide if it could overcome the false narratives spreading online in hopes of saving its declining beef business.