Kraft American Cheese now boasts the “Kids Eat Right” seal from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), which is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. This puts the over 75,000 Registered Dietitians across the country in a bit of tough situation trying to defend themselves as THE nutrition professionals.
By making this move, many news organizations are seeing this as a complete sell-out, and an endorsement by AND of American Cheese. In fact, although the AND denies they are endorsing the product, Kraft told the New York Times this was “the first time the Academy was endorsing a product”.
Below is a clip from ABS News featuring a doctor stating that Kraft American Cheese is NOT a health food, and that this label is confusing to consumers:
Some of you may know that I am in the final stages of coursework to become a Registered Dietitian. That is why this sort of partnership bothers me so much. In an effort to distinguish myself as having more nutrition credentials as a typical “Nutritionist”, which basically, anyone can call themselves with little to no training, I have spent the last four years taking classes in order to become an RD. This is not an inexpensive process, nor a painless one. It has been quite a challenge for me as someone who believes in eating real food. However, in order to gain the respect of mainstream medical professionals, and to be able to one day take insurance, and to be able to legally help folks with serious medical conditions with nutrition therapy, I need to be credentialed as an RD.
Throughout my training, I’ve heard my professors and other RDs complain about the low pay and little respect that RDs get from other medical professionals. I can assure you, money is not my motivation for becoming an RD – I was a well paid marketing manager at a natural foods company before I decided to make this change. I’m here to help folks recover from their terrible diets of highly processed foods. These sorts of partnerships between the AND and companies like Kraft completely erode any integrity RDs hope to have.
The Academy describes this collaboration as a “wonderful opportunity” and claims this is a way to “help improve eating patterns for American families.”
I believe many members of the Academy share my feelings that controversial partnerships with companies marketing highly processed foods to the public as “healthy” such as Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s and General Mills erodes our status as medical professionals in the eyes of the public. Instead, I believe these partnerships are a conflict of interest and should be ended immediately.
Certainly there are other ways of fundraising that do not compromise the professional integrity Registered Dietitians. I am very uncomfortable with these “seals”, which require me to defend our profession to the public. If you would like to write a letter to the leadership directory, Dietitians for Professional Integrity has put together a sample letter that you can use or edit. I know I am going to be voicing my concerns directly to leadership, urging them to reconsider these sponsorships.