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Health Impact News Editor Comments:
If you are a professional Registered Dietitian and oppose the corporate processed food companies sponsorship of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), there is a group on Facebook you can join:
The Facebook group is very active, exposing front groups and corporate sponsors that influence the AND, promoting junk food as nutritious. The AND and other policy groups influence nutrition advice in schools and hospitals across the U.S., so it is important to understand how these groups have been taken over by companies that market processed foods, such as Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and others who want their products labeled as “nutritious.”
Here are a couple of recent posts:
We recently told you about food industry front group — and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics friend — the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
IFIC receives funding from the usual suspects — including, but not limited to, Cargill, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, General Mills, Mars, McDonald’s, Monsanto, PepsiCo, Red Bull, and Yum! Brands (this last being the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and WingStreet).
Not-so-coincidentally, many individuals who hold leadership positions within AND (including its Evidence Analysis Library) have ties to IFIC — and, therefore, the food industry.
The PDF shared at the bottom of this post perfectly demonstrates how food industry front groups spin science in an attempt to assuage public concerns about their clients’ products.
Titled “What Is A Processed Food? You Might Be Surprised!”, this ‘fact sheet’ mentions that breakfast cereals, like frozen vegetables and roasted nuts, are processed. They conveniently fail to mention that, unlike most breakfast cereals, the freezing of vegetables and roasting of nuts does not obliterate nutrients. Nor do frozen vegetables and roasted nuts contribute artificial dyes, artificial flavors, chemical additives, or partially hydrogenated oils to people’s diets.
IFIC also relies on a familiar food industry tactic — absurdly tying modern-day processing techniques to traditional ones. “Food processing began about 2 million years ago, when our ancestors put flame to food”. Of course, heating food has nothing in common with partially hydrogenating oils, making aspartame, or turning corn into high fructose corn syrup. The food industry is aware that people are increasingly concerned with hyper-processed products, and trying to link the term “processed food” to chopping a carrot or cooking a piece of fish is one way of perpetuating deception.
We want RDs to be aware of front groups so that, when they attend educational sessions or panels that may initially appear to have no food industry ties, they can spot these representative organizations. We also want the general public and other health professionals to know who these players are, as they may come across them in a speaker’s bio or a list of sponsors.
IFIC “Processed Food Fact Sheet”:
We want to share this message we received earlier from Dietitians for Professional Integrity member Leigh Anne Critzer, MS, RD:
“Just thought I would pass along this message from my inbox this morning. A perfect reminder of why I will not renew my membership to AND, and why membership to the Dietetic Practice Groups currently seems to provide zero value to me professionally.
In school nutrition, we are (slowly but surely) moving toward providing REAL food for kids. Not processed food-like products full of preservatives, artificial sweeteners and loads of sodium! It is so frustrating that my professional practice group is offering continued education credits by listening to an advertisement for corn syrup. This is the email I got:
“School Nutrition Services (SNS) Dietetic Practice Group invites you to attend a webinar titled “School Nutrition and the Great Sweetener Debate”.
This session will be hosted Tuesday May 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM Eastern; 2:00 PM Central; 1:00 PM Mountain; 12:00 PM Pacific
Join us as Neva Cochran, MS, RD, LD discusses the importance of sorting through the hype around sweeteners in schools and making solid, nutritional decisions for our school-aged children. Ms. Cochran’s presentation is sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association.
Webinar will start on the hour. Members can call in 15 minutes before the start of the presentation. If asked for a password, the webinar password is SNSDPG.
Credit: 1 unit of CPE has been requested for those who view the live webinar. Webinar will be recorded for later viewing at www.snsdpg.org.
Webinar is free of charge to SNS DPG members.”
I wrote back to the group leaders to express my disappointment and concern that this is what I get for my membership fee to the group. School nutrition dietitians don’t need more “evidence” — we all know corn syrup appears in our most processed foods, usually frozen and reheated for convenience – the exact thing a lot of school districts are trying to get away from using.
To make matters exponentially worse, I have already been to this presentation through different dietetic groups and conferences. Twice.”
Thank you, Leigh Anne. The Corn Refiners Association appears to have a very solid relationship with AND and many of its spokespeople. If you recall, at last year’s AND conference, the Corn Refiners Association hosted three panels, all of which were framed as “sorting through the hype” and “busting through the myths”.
The Corn Refiners continually repeats the same predictable talking points (i.e.: “corn syrup is calorically equal to sugar”) without touching on the fact that the ingredients they represent are markers of highly processed foods and are ubiquitous in our food supply and most Americans’ diets. They also conveniently leave out the environmental and agricultural consequences of growing GMO corn for the sake of making corn-based sweeteners.
Without a doubt, American children are consuming too much sugar (in various forms). Imagine how powerful a statement AND could make if it provided education on, say, ways that RDs working at schools can help reduce added sugar intake. It’s disturbing that AND instead partners with an organization that attempts to normalize sweetener consumption and claim that any related concerns are sounding an unnecessary alarm.
(Thank you, too, to Jessica Creed Capsel for forwarding us this email as well)
If you are a Registered Dietitian or planning on becoming one, join the Dietitians for Professional Integrity group on Facebook !