Corporations and Health Watch (CHW) has published a June 22, 2011, article claiming that food and beverage companies frequently deploy a public relations strategy known as “astroturfing” to disguise “corporatedriven” propaganda as “bottom-up, grassroots community activism.” Titled “Corporations, the Public’s Health and Astroturf,” the article specifically warns consumers against “cloaked Websites” that “intentionally disguise authorship in order to put forward a political agenda,” as well as against front groups funded and organized by industry interests. In particular, CHW singles out Americans Against Food Taxes as a group that advertises itself as “a coalition of concerned citizens” who oppose the soda tax, but which is purportedly funded by the American Beverage Association and includes as members “the world’s largest food and soft drink manufacturers.”

“In some ways, these sorts of propaganda efforts are not new,” opines the article, which likens astroturfing to legislative efforts led by the National Smokers Alliance in the 1990s. “This kind of sophistry, ‘it’s not Astroturf, it’s just organizing,’ is a common argument made by those trying to defend such tactics.”