ABC Serves Up Bias against Starbucks
Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) has become a convenient morning stop on many hectic commutes. Recent studies have even pointed to coffeeâ€™s potential in helping to prevent cirrhosis of the liver. But on ABC, the coffee maker was criticized during a â€śconsumer alertâ€ť that treated cups of coffee like a â€śdoseâ€ť of a hard drug.
The June 19 edition of â€śGood Morning Americaâ€ť presented Starbucks as akin to a narcotics dealer preying on addicts. Correspondent Elizabeth Leamy explained â€śmany customers love their regular dose.â€ť The camera then cut to a shot of an apparent Starbucks consumer who referred to her relationship with the restaurant as â€śhabitual.â€ť And the language only got stronger when Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Executive Director Michael Jacobson called trans fats in Starbucks doughnuts â€śkiller substances.â€ť
CSPI was the main ingredient to the network attack, but GMA fill-in anchor Kate Snow called them simply a â€śconsumer groupâ€ť and ignored the organizationâ€™s anti-food industry history. This was the second time in a few days CSPI has received attention for assaults against fast food companies. Last week, CSPI lashed out against KFC.
Leamy said CSPI is attempting to â€śshameâ€ť restaurants into placing nutrition information directly onto the products or on the menu. Starbucks and KFC already prominently display nutrition information on their Web sites and provide in-store pamphlets. Both companies have also been targeted for their use of trans fats.
The segment even contained a misleading editing trick that may have confused viewers about Jacobsonâ€™s credentials. After a voiceover stated that â€śDoctors now say you should try to eliminate trans fat from your diet,â€ť Jacobson was shown on screen. The show never made an attempt to clarify his title or position with CSPI. Jacobson holds a Ph.D., but he is not a medical doctor. He is, however, well known for lashing out against the food industry and earlier this month a report from the Business & Media Institute documented his ongoing battle with KFC.
A June 16, 2006 Reuters article stated that Starbucks employees have complained of weight gain after receiving such job perks as free pastries and unlimited beverages. Consumers, however, seem satisfied by both of the major food chains. On June 14, 2006 GMA questioned several KFC customers, all seemed to enjoy the food and to understand its nutritional consequences. A female KFC customer stated â€śI know a lot of things I eat are not healthy. It's just, we want it, we desire it, so we go and we eat it.â€ť
But CSPI wasnâ€™t limiting itself to the industryâ€™s â€śworst offenders.â€ť The June 14 â€śWorld News Tonightâ€ť said that CSPI had found trans fats harder to avoid at KFC than any other fast food restaurant. The â€śGood Morning Americaâ€ť segment had CSPI admitting Starbucks wasnâ€™t event close to the worst restaurant, but that it would make a â€śgreat example of why labeling would help.â€ť A customer interviewed later in the segment disagreed when he said he â€śhighly doubtedâ€ť that additional nutritional information would affect his order at the national coffee chain.