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Table 1 Description of different corporate political activity strategies of the food industry

From: Corporate political activity of the baby food industry: the example of Nestlé in the United States of America

Instrumental StrategiesPracticesMechanisms
Coalition managementConstituency recruitment - Establish relationships with key opinion leaders and health organisationsPromote public-private interactions with health and consumers organisations, among others
Support professional organisations, including through their funding and / or advertising in their publications
Establish informal relationships with key opinion leaders
Support the placement of industry-friendly personnel within health organisations
Constituency recruitment - Seek involvement in the communityUndertake corporate philanthropy
Support physical activity initiatives
Support events (for youth, arts, etc.) and community-level initiatives
Constituency recruitment - Establish relationships with the mediaEstablish close relationships with the media, journalists and bloggers, to facilitate media advocacy
Constituency recruitment - internalEstablish relationships with other actors in the industry
Constituency fabricationEstablish fake grassroots organisations (‘astroturfing’)
Procure the support of community and business groups to oppose public health measures
Opposition fragmentation and destabilisationDiscredit public health advocates personally and publicly
Infiltrate and monitor the operations and advocacy strategies of public health organisations and advocates
Create antagonism between health professionals
Information managementProductionFund research, including through academics, ghost writers, own research institutions and front groups
AmplificationCherry pick data that favours the industry, including through the use of non-peer reviewed or unpublished evidence
Participate in and host scientific events
Propose industry-sponsored education
SuppressionSuppress the dissemination of research that does not fit the industry’s interests
Emphasise disagreement among scientists
Criticise evidence, and emphasise its complexity and uncertainty
CredibilityFronting: conceal industry links to information or evidence, including through the use of scientists serving as advisers, consultants or spokespersons
Direct involvement and influence in policyIndirect accessLobby directly and indirectly (through third parties) to influence legislation and regulation so that it is favourable to the industry
Use the “revolving door”, i.e. ex-food industry staff goes to work in the government, and vice versa
IncentivesFund and provide financial incentives to political parties and policy makers (donations, gifts, entertainment or other financial inducements)
ThreatsThreaten to withdraw investments if new public health policies are introduced
Actor in government decision makingSeek involvement in working groups, technical groups and advisory groups
Provide technical support and advice to policy-makers
Legal actionsUse legal action (or the threat thereof) against public policies or opponentsLitigate or threaten to litigate against governments, public health professionals and other institutions or individuals
Influence the development of trade and investment agreementsInfluence the development of trade and investment agreements to include clauses favourable to the industry (limited trade restrictions, mechanisms for corporations to sue governments, etc.)
Discursive strategiesDomainArgument
The economyStress the number of jobs supported and the money generated for the economy
GovernanceDemonise the ‘nanny state’
Expected food industry costsClaim that proposed policy will lead to a reduction in sales/jobs
Claim that cost of compliance will be high for the industry
Frame the debate on diet- and public health-related issuesStress the good traits of the food industry
Shift the blame away from the food industry and its products: focus on individual responsibility, the role of parents, physical inactivity, etc.
Promote industry’s preferred solutions: education, information, balanced diets, etc.
  1. Legend: Adapted from [8, 10]