Business Insider just released its list of the top PR disasters of 2012. And from the looks of it, the entire food world needs a new publicist.
Six of the debacles in the top 10 on the Business Insider list were committed by a food company of some kind -- mostly restaurant chains. The food world scandals that made it? KitchenAid's anti-Obama Tweet slips in at number 10. Then there are three non-food-related issues -- followed by strange photo of a Burger King employee stepping on lettuce at six, a photo of a Taco Bell employee urinating on the company's nachos at five, Chick-fil-A's anti-gay marriage stance at number four, the pink slime fiasco at number three and McDonald's #McDStories Twitter fail at number two. Only Penn State's Sandusky scandal was big enough to top that bloc of five.
Honestly, it's not hard to think of several other food world scandals from this year that could have competed with the ones Business Insider picked. Paula Deen's diabetes coverup definitely comes to mind. This fall's giant recall of Sunland peanut butter, or even Pete Wells's brutal review of Guy Fieri's New York restaurant, are definitely contenders. Not to mention our entire Mealbreaker series.
It's tempting, as part of the food media, to attribute the exposure of all these scandals to muckraking investigative journalism on the part of food publications, but many of these were completely self-inflicted. What's really going on? Stressful events always make you want to reach for some nice comfort food, a leg of fried chicken, say -- and many of these food scandals are really stressful. Maybe food companies are trying to drum up business by creating a culture of fear around food?
Nah -- the #McDStories fail was way too silly to have been orchestrated by any businessman that smart. We're just gonna stick with our "needs a new publicist" theory.