Guess which processed cheese product just received a nutritional seal of approval?
I’m a dietitian. I’m also a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the United States. You know. That large professional organization that is supposed to “empower members to be the nation’s food and nutrition leaders.”
Well, last week my organization decided to allow the “Kids Eat Right” logo on its first consumer food product. Kraft Singles. I, like many of my fellow dietitians, found out about it from an article in The New York Times. Was I a bit shocked and disgusted? Admittedly, yes. Here’s why: The decision by AND to partner with Kraft and launch the Singles with the logo doesn’t represent the values and beliefs of other dietitians.
The Kids Eat Right campaign was created by the AND in an effort to support education that addresses obesity among children–working with schools and communities to help kids eat better and move more. When the announcement was made about the stamp on the Kraft Singles packaging, this stamp automatically reads as a “seal of approval” from AND and all of its 75,000 dietitians. However, AND insists that it is Kraft who supports the Kids Eat Right campaign, not the other way around. The stamp is the first of what will supposedly be a 3-year collaboration between AND and Kraft. Neither I nor any of my fellow dietitians were aware of this collaboration. What the stamp looks like to the lay consumer is an endorsement–a big ole thumbs up, if you will, which is something AND supposedly does not allow. There was no vote for this. No 75,000+ majority thumbs up go-ahead. Nada. Just a stamp. On a packaged cheese product. That looks like a giant seal of approval.
And as if labels weren’t already confusing enough, one more stamp just adds to the chaos of food packaging, and most notably for processed food packaging. We were trained to promote food that doesn’t need a package. Like fruits and vegetables. I thought we were trying to minimize all this mixed messaging, and here we are just adding to it.
Join me in an effort to #RepealTheSeal, not to bring down Kraft or any food corporation, but to show my disagreement with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ willingness to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto any food packaging. It’s confusing, misleading, and has no right on the front of a parcel of food, whether it be a prepared cheese product or any other edible morsel. The letter I’ve signed not only requests removal of the logo from the current product packaging but also asks that all members of AND be informed of and exposed to the agreement between the Kids Eat Right campaign and Kraft. It’s about transparency and clarity from an organization to its members. Anyone can sign the petition. Here’s how you can help us:
Sign the petition at change.org, which outlines the steps we are asking The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Kids Eat Right to take to rectify this situation.