The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to two food and beverage trade associations and a dozen dietitians and social media health influencers for inadequately disclosing paid posts and who was paying them for posts promoting artificial sweeteners and sugary foods—a crackdown the FTC hopes sets a precedent across all influencer marketing.
Two food and beverage trade associations also received warning letters about not disclosing paid … [+] posts promoting artificial sweeteners and sugary foods. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) Toronto Star via Getty Images
William Dermody Jr., vice president of media and public affairs for the American Beverage Association, told Forbes the organization has taken steps “to be transparent about our partnership with credible experts who spoke to the science behind the safety of aspartame and the FDA’s determination that it is safe.” Dermody added that the association will “continue our ongoing commitment to disclose” its relationship with dietitians.
Last month, the Washington Post reported an investigation that found the food and beverage industry is paying influencers who are registered dietitians and health professionals to make posts promoting artificial sweeteners and other sugary foods such as candy and ice cream. The social media campaigns for the artificial sweetener aspartame, which is used in many foods and beverages such as Diet Coke, were reportedly in response to a report from the WHO in July that found aspartame is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” At the time, the American Beverage Association and the Canadian Sugar Institute said the influencers they paid to make content downplaying the WHO’s report about aspartame did adequately disclose the posts were sponsored, the Washington Post reported.
Levine told the Washington Post he expects the warning letters to “be heard loud and clear” not only by food and beverage companies and influencers, “but also in other industries that may think that influencers don’t need to disclose these connections.”
$21.1 billion. That’s how much the influencer marketing industry is expected to be worth this year, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.
The food industry pays ‘influencer’ dietitians to shape your eating habits (The Washington Post)
What To Know About Aspartame: The Sugar Substitute In Diet Coke Declared As A Possible Cancer Risk By WHO (Forbes)
FTC Clamping Down On Nutrition Influencers Over Artificial Sweetener Promotions-Here’s What To Know