How Purdue Customer Service Lost Me As A Customer
The food war is heating up, now more than ever, as the battle continues over whether foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) should be labeled as such. Lawmakers, (the majority) supported industrial farming and corporate interests by passing legislature that does not require these organizations to openly disclose the use of GMOs in their foods. Consumers want to know about the presence of GMOs much like they rely on labels to see how much sugar, sodium, fat, protein, etc… they are getting, in addition to notice that a product may include (or be made in proximity to) wheat, soy or nuts.
Rather, the bill forces consumers to scan every product as they go up and down the grocery store isles (or call a 1-800 number) if they want to find out if the product in which they are interested has been made with, or includes, GMOs. Consumers, of course, find this onerous (and discriminatory because it excludes people who don’t have Smartphones, which typcially represent low income families or the elderly) and are loathe to believe that their elected officials have failed to act in the public’s best interest. The herculean effort to hide this information and refusal to label on the part of the big chemical and food companies has only served to raise suspicion about GMO safety, because after all, if they are so great - and harmless - why not shout it from the rooftops and advertise them as a selling point?
Because on both sides of the debate, people know this is not the case.
I follow this issue closely, because I, like many other people, need to know what is in my food. Several years back I became very ill. I was unable to eat and when I tried, I got sick. It not only got increasingly worse despite the efforts made through conventional medicine, but “treatment” added on problems that I didn’t have before. Finally, essentially unable to eat, someone suggested I take a closer look at my diet. It seems so obvious now: I ate. I got sick. That’s all I kept saying to anyone who would listen. But no one, not I nor my doctors, thought to make the connection directly to the food. Knowing what I know now, I'm convinced that no one suspects that food is to blame because we don’t really know what is in it and/or what is being done to it.
With the help of a nutritionist, I started eating organic, whole foods and suddenly, and I mean like immediately, I started to recover.
Some people are quick to say that there is no proof GMOs are bad. But after my experience, my response is that no one can prove that my illness (and there are many, many others with stories like mine) was not related to having a genetically altered food (or foods) in my system either. The truth is, we just don’t know. If I ate one food that was not organic (grown with chemical pesticides and genetically modified organisms) and got sick, and later ate the very same foods without those characteristics and did not get sick, but in fact grew healthier and felt better than ever before, then it stands to reason that there is a legitimate question there and that question has not been answered. Our bodies deserve the respect to at least consider this possibility, a possibility which warrants the pursuit of any knowledge about how these manmade concoctions could be causing us harm.
My hormones were also an issue because they too were all thrown out of whack and for that reason I also have to be very careful about animals treated with hormones and antibiotics (another hot-button issue). Needless to say, I now ask a lot of questions and try to get as much information as I can about the food I put into my body before it goes in.
So, it was with this history that I contacted Perdue after seeing their ads run with cute little chickens drinking fresh herb-infused water, pointing to the fact that their chickens are never fed antibiotics and have enhanced diets with these natural herbs. Fine. Better than fine actually. It’s great. They deserve recognition for their leadership and proving that positive change is possible. But to look at the chickens’ diets and lead customers to believe that they care about what these animals are being fed is also to question the quality of that feed. I wanted to know if, with the herb-infused water, the chickens were fed grains that have been genetically modified.
And, this is where they lost me. And for such stupid reasons. But, these big companies just can't help themselves. You will see what I mean in the comments I've inserted in italics between each paragraph of their correspondence.
Thank you for your recent inquiry about GMOs in our animal feeds.
Our animals are fed a diet that includes locally sourced corn and soybeans grown on family farms. Since more than 90% of the corn and 80% of the soybeans grown in the US are raised from genetically engineered seeds, most conventional livestock feed, including that used for animals raised for our brand, contains biotech grains.
Number 1 – Don’t try to sell me something I don't want.
They should have stopped after the first sentence. That alone, would have answered my inquiry. To continue only makes them sound as though they feel they need to justify using biotech grains. Plus, the we-have-to-do-it-because-everyone-else-does-it defense is no defense at all. For a customer who does not want to eat GMOs (and there are millions) being told that most of the corn and soy is a “biotech” grain, is irrelevant and actually makes it worse.
Eating meat from an animal raised on a diet that includes biotech grain doesn't mean you're consuming genetically engineered ingredients. The grains are converted to energy by the animal's metabolism, or used to support the animal’s growth, and the genetic material is not transferred to the meat.
Number 2 – Don’t make statements you don’t back up.
This is a crazy answer and if it’s true, they need to support it with evidence. All food is converted to energy and metabolized. That's the whole point of eating! So again, any material adjustment to the natural state of any animal or plant in the food chain requires examination of its effect on the entire chain. So while it may not mean we are eating genetically modified ingredients, we are eating something else that ate genetically modified ingredients. If that alteration to the DNA changes anything in the chicken, the potential that such a change could be passed on is worth exploring. And for many, supporting animal growth through unnatural means is questionable. They’re missing the point that customers don’t want “growth” forced upon an animal anymore than they want the animals raised under inhumane conditions. Again, to make these statements without any kind of support is dubious at best and irresponsible at worst. Finally, for people who feel animals also have the right to eat unadulterated food and be healthy as a result, this answer is a slap in the face.
Biotech grains have been widely used in agriculture for close to two decades, increasing yields, decreasing the need for chemical herbicides and pesticides and providing nutritional benefits. During that time, science has found no link between human health and the consumption of meat from animals fed a diet that includes biotech grains, a position that is supported by the World Health Organization.
Number 3 – Show some respect. It’s consumer relations 101.
For those same two decades disease and illness have climbed proportionately in this country. And if you are going to cite science, then actually cite the science. But at this point, the only reason there is no link found between human health and the consumption of meat from animals fed a diet that includes biotech grains (just the term is offensive) is because there is no research to produce the link, period. Certainly, if there was, they should have produced the sources. Then, to throw WHO in to make it sound better is just an insult.
For those consumers who prefer chicken produced without the use of biotech grain, we offer USDA Certified Organic chicken under XYZ labels. The USDA Certified Organic seal on these products is your assurance that the chickens were fed an organic diet with no biotech ingredients.
Number 4 - That's all they had to say.
So instead of me walking away from my interaction with this company, respecting their position, I’m disgusted. This is what they should have said.
PERDUE®/PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® animals are fed a diet that includes locally sourced corn and soybeans grown on family farms that do contain biotech grains.
For those consumers who prefer chicken produced without the use of biotech grain, we offer USDA Certified Organic chicken under the PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® Organic and COLEMAN ORGANIC® labels. The USDA Certified Organic seal on these products is your assurance that the chickens were fed an organic diet with no biotech ingredients.
Should you have further questions or concerns, please call us toll-free Monday through Friday 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM ET (6:30 AM to 3:00 PM PT). You may also e-mail us at www.perdue.com.
The moral of the story: Less is more. Answer the question and provide a solution. And that's it. Don’t preach a position that detracts from the strength of your products with filler that creates an exchange that is more manipulation than service.
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For additional information on the GMO debate and to get involved visit, Food Democracy Now! Center for Food Safety, The Cornucopia Institute, Organic Consumers Association or Friends of the Earth