The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) dismissed the advert, which was placed in Gloucester in response to the opening of a new mortuary in the city designed specifically to accommodate obese corpses.
But Stephen Rossides, director of the BMPA urged the campaign group to “grow up”.
He told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “This is shoddy scaremongering. Any nutritional experts will tell you that meat is an important part of a balanced diet and a valuable source of nutrients”.
Other people’s misfortune
His comments follow an angry response to the advert from the National Obesity Forum (NOF), which described the poster as “laughable”. It also accused PETA of seeking to highlight other people’s misfortune.
The advert, which shows a coffin-shaped pie and asks the question: “Not ready to meat your maker?” comes as Gloucester is set to become home to the UK’s first mortuary to accommodate bodies weighing up to nearly 320kg, according to PETA.
The poster also recommends veganism as the only solution to the problem of obesity and is designed to promote the dangers of the condition.
Yvonne Taylor, a spokeswoman for PETA, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Eating animal products has been conclusively linked to obesity and that the only healthy weight-loss plan which has been scientifically proved to take weight off and keep it off for more than a year is a vegan diet.
“Peta's new billboard highlights how meat pies and pasties have been linked to obesity and other ailments. The best thing that coffin dodgers can do for their health and to help animals is to go vegan.”
But the campaign was also met with disdain from some angry locals after it was revealed that, just two days after placing the advert, it was targeted by vandals.
A section of the poster was torn down and PETA’s name removed, according to the BBC.
PETA hit out at the vandalism, however, and accused meat eaters of “cutting their loved one’s lives short” by ignoring “overwhelming scientific evidence” that vegetarians are less likely to be overweight or suffer from cancer or heart disease.
“This billboard tells the truth: eating animal parts has been conclusively linked to obesity and other ailments,” a PETA spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“Not only has the British Medical Association shown that vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, the Department of Health has also advised Britons to eat less meat to cut the risk of cancer.”
Obesity has been recognised by the government as a serious problem across the UK and tackling the issue is a driving force behind Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s controversial responsibility deal.
Latest NHS statistics revealed that a quarter or 26% of men and women were classified as obese in 2010. Around three in 10 boys and girls aged between two to 15 were classed as either overweight or obese.
The obesity crisis is estimated to cost the UK £20bn in lost productivity, according to Professor Lindsey Davies, president of the faculty of public health.