Trifecta Nutrition is an organic meal delivery service that offers classic, keto, paleo, vegetarian, and vegan plans. Trifecta states, on their website, that their meals are “Organic, premium, pre-made meals”. Their website also claims, “Every meal is made from scratch, just like you would prepare in your own home, only in much larger volume by professional chefs. Our amazing team of chefs use all organic ingredients, grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood”. However, at the Crossfit Games that ran from August 3rd, 2017 to August 6th, 2017, Trifecta was found to have been using food from other restaurants such as IHOP, a local barbeque shack, and a Mexican restaurant, and others. This incident contradicts their previous statement about using all organic ingredients such as grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood, and another statement about every meal being made from scratch. CrossFit is currently investigating allegations also about the 2018 games with Trifecta’s actions. Trifecta is chosen by many customers because of their fresh products that cater to different dietary preferences of customers. These allegations that the company is facing is not good for their publicity or consistent business because it shows that they cannot be trusted to supply the quality of food promised, or even their own products. This case will be looked at through the four different ethical lenses, Individualism, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory. Considering a utilitarian argument, more harm was done in this Trifecta scandal than bringing happiness. In fact, there is no happiness to be known of in this case, not from Trifecta employees, customers, athletes at the Crossfit games, alternative food sources, or Crossfit Games employees. Thinking of individualism, the Trifecta case was unethical because the company had passed alternative food sources off as their own. A kantian argument can be made that the Trifecta employees were not honest to the Crossfit Games staff, the athletes, or anyone in this scandal. And finally, a virtue theory is that this case was unethical because Trifecta did not meet any of the four characteristics of the virtue theory, which are courage, honesty, temperance, or justice.
In 2018, Trifecta Nutrition was involved in a food scandal involving the Reebok Crossfit Games, and some third party restaurants and food chains, such as IHOP, McDonald's, and a Mexican food restaurant. Trifecta is the main food supplier for the Crossfit Games, providing food for athletes, staff, and and consumers at the event. Trifecta promises fresh, healthy, and dietary specific meals for their customers. For the Crossfit Games, Trifecta had gone to third party food suppliers, mentioned above, and used their products to pass off as their own during the event. Two former Trifecta employees came forward to spread this news, and were later relieved of their roles in the company. Trifecta Nutrition was founded in 2015 by Greg Connolly, who is also the present-day CEO of the company. In an article written on July 25, 2018 by hugheyphillipsllp.com, the text reads, “Trifecta Nutrition, which won a high-profile competition for local startup businesses and struck partnerships with national sports organizations, is accused in a lawsuit of repackaging processed foods from chain and fast-food restaurants and passing it off as high-quality organic meals suitable for top-level athletes in training” . This quote shows that before the incidents were found from the CrossFit Games, Trifecta was proved to be a big name in meal delivery, winning multiple competitions for startup businesses and collecting partnerships with well-known sport organizations. In another article, Morningchalkup, discusses how Trifecta sourced food from other businesses for events. A quote that shows this from the mentioned article is, “Trifecta also provides all the food for staff at Regionals, the Games, and to CrossFit HQ for those who wish to purchase it. The lawsuit alleges that Trifecta sourced food for the 2017 CrossFit Games from other restaurants — “IHOP, a local BBQ shack, and a Mexican restaurant, among others, as well as sourcing McDonalds hamburger buns” — and passed it off as their own” . This lawsuit was filed by two former Trifecta employees. After the lawsuit was filed by the two Trifecta employees, they were fired a week later. Another quote that adds to the same case is also written by Morningchalkup. The two employees that filed the lawsuit were mentioned in the quote, “Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, who were both fired on August 14, 2017, just a week after the 2017 CrossFit Games. Scott was hired July 1, 2016 and was formerly the marketing manager. He also holds a minority ownership in Trifecta (50,000 shares). Jodi was hired in September 2017, as a “Social Media & Marketing Intern” then promoted to full-time around May 2017” . Also, according to Morningchalkup in the same article, in the next paragraph, “According to the lawsuit, both employees had received promotions days prior to being fired. Both former employees are seeking monetary damages in excess of $80,000 each” . Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, the two ex-Trifecta employees, did the ethical action by speaking up about Trifecta’s actions. Another paragraph from Morningchalkup says, “Morning Chalk Up also spoke with Dan Schneiderman, partner at Witan Law Group, the legal team representing Trifecta on this matter. He added, ‘This is an honest, hardworking company that's made its way from a concept to a start up to a successful company. We believe that the accusation and allegations in the complaint are ultimately trying to form an unfounded narrative to say that a certain culture exists at Trifecta that quite frankly does not exist in that manner. We believe that the allegations are unsubstantiated and are founded mostly out of retribution from two disgruntled employees’” . The previous paragraph also stated, “‘Trifecta strongly opposes the allegations and claims present in the underlying lawsuit,’ Trifecta said in a statement. ‘While we cannot discuss the details of pending litigation nor provide specifics regarding the alleged claims at this time, we look forward to correcting the record regarding the salacious and misguided claims brought by these two disgruntled fired employees’” . Both of these quotes from Morningchalkup state that Trifecta has denied these claims made by former employees, Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, and preach their innocence on the incident involving CrossFit Games. The lawsuit against Trifecta was 141 pages long, from source Morningchalkup, and in the coming sentences, quotes and photos will be shown from this lawsuit. “‘The food was supposed to be Defendant Trifecta food, which is advertised as “90% lean or greater, and Organic, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free and Non-GMO,” but instead was McDonalds hamburger buns, IHOP pancakes, meat and egg products, pork and other meat products from local BBQ shack, etc. Not only were those food products not Defendant Trifecta’s, none of them are or were “90% lean or greater, and Organic, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free and Non-GMO’” . Below I will include a photo incorporated into the lawsuit used as evidence against
An individualistic theory posses primary values of the business, or those involved, profiting. Now considering Trifecta Nutrition, the Trifecta case was not ethical to an individualistic argument because the company had passed alternative food sources off as their own, therefore not profiting. An excerpt from the lawsuit against Trifecta, displayed on Morningchalkup, reads, ““Another specific example involves eggs served to CrossFit competitors and attendees. Eggology is or was the sponsored egg product and provider for CrossFit, and Defendant Trifecta was supposed to prepare and serve Eggology eggs for breakfast each day. Defendant Liz Connolly first told Plaintiffs and others that IHOP refused to cook the eggs at their facility because it was against IHOP’s corporate policies and procedures. Shockingly, Defendant Liz Connolly’s solution, as she explained to Plaintiffs and others, was to instruct IHOP to literally throw out the thousands of cartons of Eggology eggs that Defendants sent to IHOP and have IHOP prepare and serve whatever eggs they desired. When Plaintiffs and others communicated to Defendant Liz Connolly their disappointment and disagreement with her approach, Defendant Liz Connolly changed her story and represented that IHOP suddenly changed its corporate policies and procedures and in fact agreed to prepare and serve the Eggology eggs” . Another argument to consider to viewing Trifecta's case from an individualistic perspective, is that neither the athletes, nor anyone else involved in the food scandal have profited from this incident.
A utilitarianism argument is happiness for all. Considering a utilitarian argument in the Trifecta food scandal, more harm was done in this Trifecta scandal than happiness brought. In fact, there is no happiness to be known of in this case, not from Trifecta employees, customers, athletes at the CrossFit games, alternative food sources, or CrossFit Games employees. Looking back on the comments made about Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, these two employees were treated very unfairly. Also considering the dietary plans that CrossFit athletes are on, they have chosen specific meals from Trifecta with trust that they contain the exact nutritional facts to maximize their performance during events. As well as these athletes, any customer of Trifecta reasonably has distrust in the food provider now. Trifecta’s actions have disappointed many and it will take honesty and an action plan to turn their reputation around.
A Kantian argument is rational decision-making and honesty and freedom. A Kantian argument can be made that the Trifecta employees were not honest to the CrossFit Games staff, the athletes, or anyone in this scandal. As shown in the photos above, of text messages with the president of Trifecta Nutrition, it is clear that there was a lack of honesty from Trifecta. Trifecta was also unwilling to disclose what specific restaurants where they sourced food. With this being said, Trifecta did not consider a Kantian ethical theory in their business actions.
Virtue theory is considering character traits that promote wellness or flourishing of individuals within a society. Trifecta did not meet any of the four characteristics of the virtue theory, which are courage, honesty, temperance, or justice. Trifecta did not follow these four characteristics in the slightest way. In fact, it was courageous of them to risk their reputation over a situation that was very controllable from their own ability.
Speaking on my personal opinion of this Trifecta Nutrition scandal, I believe Trifecta to be guilty and in wrongdoing. CrossFit Games have been around since 2007, and it is a very respected and popular event. Athletes work extremely hard every year to be featured in the event, a miniature Olympics if you will, and Trifecta’s actions have foreshadowed that they do not take the event seriously, the athletes seriously, the athletes training seriously, or even have respect for their own business or values, to stick to their statements about, “Every meal is made from scratch, just like you would prepare in your own home, only in much larger volume by professional chefs. Our amazing team of chefs use all organic ingredients, grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood” and “Organic, premium, pre-made meals”. What would be a great action plan for Trifecta, is to show the meal delivery business that they are now striving to be what they have lacked to be during this time. What I am referring to is Trifecta should show the public, and CrossFit Games, that they can be trusted from now on, and that nothing but Trifecta products will be distributed. The two terminated employees, Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, should be compensated for their termination, and also, Trifecta should re-evaluate their upper-level management, because an ethical president would not allow such actions to be performed.
The current issue, is that Trifecta has been dishonest about what food they are providing to consumers, and have denied all claims against them, despite the evidence produced against the company. With the detailed and strong evidence against Trifecta, a mission statement should include a public apology from Trifecta, to consumers, the Crossfit Games, and the athletes participating in the Crossfit Games, as well as a plan moving forward to prove their future honesty to consumers. Some core values that are important are honesty, customer
The current issue, is that Trifecta has been dishonest about what food they are providing to consumers, and have denied all claims against them, despite the evidence produced against the company. With the detailed and strong evidence against Trifecta, a mission statement should include a public apology from Trifecta, to consumers, the Crossfit Games, and the athletes participating in the Crossfit Games, as well as a plan moving forward to prove their future honesty to consumers. Some core values that are important are honesty, customersatisfaction, and quality assurance of the products being produced and distributed. I believe that some upper level management should be fired for allowing these actions to take place, and for a quality assurance worker to be hired or a quality assurance team, to make sure that the products being distributed are Trifecta's own products, as well as that they are to their own quality standard. With Trifecta's dishonesty towards passing off other vendor's food as their own, they have received poor publicity which has to be rebuilt by building a positive reputation with big names. Trifecta has continued to be the provider for Crossfit Games, which shows consumers that the air has been cleared between the nutrition company as well as Crossfit Games. With this plan of showing how trustworthy of a company Trifecta can be moving forward, their business will hopefully return to having an outstanding reputation.
About The Author Amy Gesenhues Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media, and Amy Gesenhues Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media. “A CMO's View: How IHOP Keeps Winning the Love & Affection of Its 3.5M Facebook Fans.” Marketing Land, 16 Aug. 2016, marketingland.com/cmos-view-ihop-keeps-winning-love-affection-3-5m-facebook-fans-187900.
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