Is the ‘clean eating’ trend on the verge of a PR crisis?

Did you catch the BBC documentary Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets last week?

The programme saw vlogger Grace Victory investigating the ever-growing trend for ‘eating clean’. Over recent years, the queens of clean such as Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella), Madeleine Shaw (Get the Glow) and Natasha Corrett (Honestly Healthy) have been instrumental in driving forward the movement for health and wellness.

Now that the trend has well and truly taken the UK by storm, no longer is quinoa being pronounced ‘kwinoha’ and you’d be hard pushed to find a family that doesn’t own a spiralizer. More and more people are cutting out gluten, sugar, dairy and meat. But is clean eating hiding a dirty truth? This is what Grace examines in her documentary as she vlogs about dabbling in a new ‘clean’ lifestyle and interviews dieticians, doctors and fellow YouTubers about the trend.

Here at Bloomin’ Creative, we found the documentary really interesting from a PR perspective. Many brands have benefitted from the increased awareness of the new clean eating culture, but will it eventually turn into a recipe for disaster?

The documentary did attempt to offer a balanced view – but when Dr Sarah Schenker, of the British Dietetic Association, presented her critiques of the industry, they certainly gave us food for thought. She blasted apart many of the key brand messages of the green goddesses. For example, Deliciously Ella says “… when we drink milk, calcium is drawn from our bones in order to rebalance the acidity it causes, which can result in a calcium deficit…” Dr Schenker’s response? “This is just scientific nonsense.”

The fact that Grace contacted a number of popular wellness bloggers and vloggers to give their side of their story, but only one came forward, was quite telling. The only clean eating brand ambassador prepared to defend her corner was Natasha Corrett, the woman behind Honestly Healthy, which boasts of a number of famous followers, including Victoria Beckham.

To give Natasha her due, she didn’t jump on the bandwagon, as she launched Honestly Healthy years before the clean eating culture grew to its current level of popularity. But the interview was still pretty tense and awkward to watch. Natasha answered a number of Grace’s questions and explained the Honestly Healthy ethos. However, when the contentious issues were brought up, for example, the scientific arguments of the dietician, she point-blank refused to answer the questions.

From a PR perspective, should Natasha have agreed to the interview if she wasn’t prepared to answer the difficult questions? Perhaps not. But kudos to her for actually doing the interview when everyone else refused. However, avoiding answering tricky questions might’ve done more harm than good, as it’ll have viewers wondering why those questions couldn’t be answered.

As far as we’re aware, this is the first time the clean eating industry has been called into question by a media source as giant as the BBC. So, what sort of impact will this have? Will it lead to more documentaries and articles questioning the authenticity and longevity of the clean eating culture? We wouldn’t be surprised if it did, which means all the brands spearheading the trend must pull together to defend the reputation of the movement they so enthusiastically advocated – otherwise they should be prepared for the potential backlash leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of those who have followed it.

Did you watch Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets? If so, what did you think? Do you believe the sudden growth of the clean eating trend could be a recipe for disaster? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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If you need some advice about crisis management and how to handle your brand’s reputation from a PR perspective, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and email to arrange a free consultation.

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