BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos are drool worthy and every foodie’s favourite time pass. But they’ve left a bad taste in the mouths of a few food bloggers, who are accusing them of content theft. After Nieman Lab’s report declared Tasty Cookbook as one of 2016’s top bestselling cookbooks, industry professionals suggested a not-so-tasty side to its viral recipe videos.
According to a Mic.com report, prominent food writer Kenji López-Alt, who is also the author of New York Times' bestselling book The Food Lab, tweeted accusing BuzzFeed’s Tasty general manager Ashley McCollum of plagiarism. Though he deleted his tweet later, he didn’t shy away from retweeting similar accusations.
Apparently Kenji called McCollum a ‘shameless lying and thieving hack’ in his tweet.
Food blogger Nick Chipman of Dude Foods reportedly told Mic.com that Tasty’s Bacon Weave Taco recipe is uncomfortably similar to his The Double Decker Mac & Cheese Stuffed Bacon Weave Taco.
However, BuzzFeed Food’s Facebook video titled ‘Bacon Weave Mac & Cheese Taco’ gave credit to Nick’s recipe, after a plagiarism claim was brought to their attention. Dude Foods seems to have had reason enough to be pissed off anyway.
According to Chipman, a BuzzFeed editor told him in the company’s defence that they weren’t aware that Alvin Zhou, their freelance video developer, had borrowed heavily from Chipman’s Bacon recipes. An angry Lopez also tweeted about gross inconsistencies in BuzzFeed’s official responses on the matter.
Apparently BuzzFeed also came under fire for a Rainbow Cookie Recipe that was allegedly lifted from a popular blog, Eugenie Kitchen. When a Facebook user brought this to everyone’s notice on Twitter and Facebook, due credit was reportedly added by BuzzFeed. Eugenie later penned a post confirming that her permission was only sought after her recipe had been copied and shared on social media.
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti defended his company’s stance by allegedly saying that chefs borrow and remix each others’ recipes all the time. While intellectual property rights are in the grey zone when it comes to food recipes, Lopez and Chipman maintain that credit must be given to an original recipe wherever it is due.
It sucks to put in a ton of work coming up with ideas and recipes and making them only to see BuzzFeed ripping them off without even crediting where the original idea came from.Nick Chipman, Founder Dude Foods
Even though none of Lopez, Chipman or Eugenie’s recipes made it to the Tasty Cookbook, the new-age social media food format is making big bucks for BuzzFeed, reportedly accounting for almost half of the company’s alleged $250 million revenue.
As for BuzzFeed’s strategy in the food world, Ashley McCollum stresses in this video that the manner in which Tasty videos are shot and produced, might be the bigger reason behind their virality. In her opinion it’s all about making cooking a more inclusive experience, rather than a particular recipe.