A recipe for almond butter nut cups has landed fitness entrepreneur Sam Wood in a rather sticky situation. The former Bachelor and founder of successful online weightloss program, 28 by Sam Wood, has been accused of copying recipes and content from local competitors.
The claims come following a series of leaked internal emails. In one, a 28 by Sam Wood staff member links to a recipe for rival program KIC (Keeping it Cleaner)’s Choc Na’na Fudge and writes, “went in and downloaded all their recipes…idiots.”
The Daily Telegraph also noted striking similarities between KIC’s choc nut cups and 28’s almond butter nut cups, which vary by the quantity and use of traditional butter rather than cocoa butter.
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KIC‘s Laura Henshaw said she and co-founder Steph Smith were surprised to learn of the similarities between their recipe – created 18 months ago – and that of 28 by Sam Wood.
“We of course, understand that there’s so many recipes online and there’s so many people taking inspiration from other people’s recipes – that’s the industry, and that’s fine. But copying and only changing a couple of sentences is different,” the 25-year-old told Mamamia.
“Especially because for a lot of the recipes [including the nut cups] Steph and I have spent hours and hours in our kitchen developing them.”
Both KIC and 28 by Sam Wood operate online and offer users access to exercise routines, nutrition plans and mindfulness/meditation exercises for a monthly fee.
Sam Wood told Mamamia that his team does monitor the output of direct competitors, but denied any claims of plagiarism.
“We never plagiarise other programs and our content is all our own. On top of that, we can’t plagiarise – our recipes need to be specific to our overall program of nutrition, exercise and mindfulness that is created by me and my team of recognised professionals,” he said.
“Keeping a close eye on our peers reminds us that we must continually strive to do our best and is part of our process to ensure we continually give our amazing 28ers what they love and this will mean recipes and workouts are occasionally similar.”
While recorded (ie. written) recipes are protected by Australian copyright legislation, meaning they cannot be directly republished, it is not a breach of law to adapt, modify or even simply re-word the content.
Nonetheless, Henshaw said the whole saga has “cut deep”, especially given their personal friendship with Wood.
“He could have just come out and apologised,” she said. “But the fact that he’s excused this behaviour as competition is just really disheartening.
“Everyone says imitation is the highest form of flattery, but there’s a point at which it just becomes frustrating.”
The use of the word “idiots” in the leaked email was also “really disappointing, Henshaw said.
Addressing the remark, Wood said the statement had been “taken out of context”, but conceded that it “sounds terrible”.
“None of us at 28 would condone such behaviour. These do not represent the values of us as an organisation,” he told Mamamia. “This internal email was in sheer admiration of our competitors knowing we’re all fighting the good fight to help people be better versions of themselves.”