Challenging misinformation

AHDB’s Media and PR team, with the support of internal and industry stakeholders, works to challenge misinformation in the press, social media and advertising. As well as encouraging balanced reporting through sharing facts about British agriculture and the challenges of sustainable food production. The below outlines some of the claims we've challenged and how we work with the media.

August 2022

AHDB responds to the University of Oxford’s study ‘Estimating the environmental impacts of 57,000 food products’.

July 2022

AHDB made a complaint to the ASA over unsupported claims on the reduced environmental impact of plant-based meat products, this complaint is active and ongoing.

AHDB wrote to The Lancet to raise concerns over the data used within its 2019 Global Burden of Disease study, an annual analysis of global health risks commonly used to shape government health policy. Academics have raised their concerns with the data, to which The Lancet has failed take action in response.

We are aware a group of highly respected health and nutrition academics asked to understand why the study showed a 36-fold increase in global deaths attributed to eating red meat, compared to the previous set of data released in 2017… we would like to ask you to share with us the method used to make these calculations and the data which underpins it. …Given that the authors of the study have acknowledged its shortcomings and have committed to publishing an updated version, I am surprised and concerned that The Lancet still has the old misleading study published on its website. - Tim Rycroft, AHDB CEO

May 2022

During Vegetarian Week, The Vegetarian Society UK provided free assets on its website which AHDB felt were misleading as meat production is not the leading cause of climate change, and climate change is not the leading cause of species decline for any of the animals mentioned. However, it was advised by the ASA that the material fell outside its jurisdiction.

AHDB made a complaint to the ASA over misleading claims made in a TV advert on water usage and the impact going vegan has on reducing personal environmental impact, this complaint is active and ongoing.

February 2022

AHDB made a complaint to the ASA against Viva’s ‘Take away the meat’ advert for misleading viewers on UK slaughter practices, causing harm and offence, and promoting violence or crime. The advert received over 400 complaints in all; however the ASA felt it did not breach any of its codes and that viewers would understand the controversial ad was from a vegan pressure group promoting a vegan diet.

Following Oxford County Council's proposal to make all public catering plant-based, AHDB responded with an open letter to highlight the environmental impact of British livestock farming and its role within a healthy diet. 

Head of Environment Dr Jonathan Foot spoke of BBC Radio 4's PM programme (19 mins in) about how British livestock farming is becoming more sustainable.

AHDB responded to a new study from the CEO of Impossible Foods which claims eliminating livestock agriculture would reduce global emissions by 68%. Coverage in The Mail Online and inews.

January 2022

AHDB contacted the BBC about its article 'The people moving from high to low carbon careers' in which global figures about the carbon footprint of the global dairy industry and claims about the impact of a vegan diet were made. Changes were made by the BBC to bring UK data and context to the carbon emissions of dairy farming, as well as the evidence around the real impact of going vegan.

November 2021

Head of Environment Dr Jonathan Foot spoke at COP26, highlighting the absence of reliable and comparable data within carbon reduction reporting. As well as the need across all industries and sectors for standardised reporting to be able to measure any progress towards Net Zero targets.

Featuring AHDB’s strategic farmer David Barton, AHDB worked with Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped team on its COP26 special to ensure accuracy and provide further information.

AHDB contacted the BBC to highlight that greenhouse gas emissions cited in its latest climate article were global and not UK based, the article was amended. 

October 2021

AHDB made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority regarding two Meatless Farm adverts. The adverts did not make approved health claims as required under ASA codes and, following a review, the ASA agreed and asked Meatless Farm to remove all uses of the adverts.

September 2021

In response to an article in The Times, AHDB, Dairy UK, and the NFU wrote an open letter to outline the inaccuracies in the article on the use of antibiotics in UK livestock, as well as highlighting the sustainability credentials of the UK dairy industry.

AHDB wrote to the Daily Express following the article ‘Would you put these milks in your tea?’, to highlight that British milk is among the most sustainable in the world.

August 2021

Following the release of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, AHDB lined up Professor Liam Sinclair from Harper Adams University to speak on Farming Today about his research on how feed additives can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cattle.

AHDB challenged a number of claims within The Independent's ‘4 ways going vegan can help the planet, highlighting inaccuracies in wording and comparisons. As a result, The Independent amended wording to reflect the scientific evidence accurately.

July 2021

After the BBC reported on meat production shortages and quoted The Vegan Society, which made claims about meat and livestock reduction, AHDB emailed the BBC to ask the relevance of the contribution. AHDB was invited to put forward a statement and any additional information to bring balance and context.

AHDB responded to the National Food Strategy.

June 2021

Head of Environment Dr Jonathan Foot spoke at the Westminster Forum to outline how the UK’s agriculture sector can help deliver the changes required to land use (as set out by the UKCCC) and reach the Government’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

April 2021

Blue Peter retracted its ‘go meat free’ pledge as part of its ‘climate heroes’ campaign, following an open letter from AHDB, HCC and QMS calling out its flawed science and lack of balance, and the BBC’s failure in its role to educate and be impartial.

February 2021

AHDB contacted Quorn following the launch of its social media campaign which featured videos from well-known footballers. In the videos, the claim “livestock emit more carbon than transport” was made, which is incorrect. Quorn agreed to stop using the videos and corrected claims on its website.

January 2021

AHDB challenged two claims made on Oatly’s website: what we eat has the biggest impact on the planet, and livestock emit more carbon than transport. After correspondence with Oatly, both claims were changed to reflect the facts, that scientific evidence shows other lifestyle factors have a much greater impact on the planet than diet, and like-for-like comparison shows livestock do not emit more carbon than transport. Following 109 complaints, the ASA ruled these adverts were misleading. 

A formal complaint was made by AHDB to the Advertising Standards Authority against a Surge Activism campaign, claiming that going vegan is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on earth. As scientific evidence shows, other lifestyle factors have a much greater impact on the planet than diet; the advert is no longer to be used.

Further information

If you see something you’d like our team to investigate, please email it to adcheck@ahdb.org.uk with as much information on when and where you came across it.

If you’d like to learn more about AHDB’s work to challenge misinformation, you can read AHDB’s Head of Media and PR, Phil Maiden’s blog.

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