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Dietitians For Professional Integrity’s New Report: The Food Ties That Bind

67974_470416076361606_1005254201_nFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 18, 2013

Dietitians’ advocacy group pulls back the curtain on Big Food’s power and influence at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo – America’s largest nutrition conference.

Last month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held its annual conference (The Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo, also known as FNCE) in Houston, Texas. Today, Dietitians for Professional Integrity — an advocacy group co-founded by 14 dietitians that advocates for the Academy to cut its ties to its Big Food partners and sponsors — releases “The Food Ties That Bind”, a report that details the messaging Big Food shared with dietitians at 2013 FNCE.

The report highlights some of the educational materials provided by the likes of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and General Mills at the conference, including:

  • Coca-Cola’s “Balancing Act” pamphlet, which emphasizes “energy balance”, and recommends burning 100 calories by gardening for 19 minutes, playing soccer for 13 minutes, or climbing stairs for 10 minutes. The pamphlet also reminds readers that soda and juice can all help meet hydration needs.
  • ConAgra’s oil comparison chart, which argues that the company’s Mazola “heart-healthy” corn oil is superior to olive oil due to the presence of phytosterols. Conveniently, this handout does not compare the amount of healthful monounsaturated fats in corn and olive oil, which would make olive oil the clear winner. Among the “added benefits” of corn oil listed in this handout: “naturally cholesterol-free” (as are all plant foods) and “contains vitamin E” (as all nut and seed oils do).
  • Kellogg’s “Comply and Satisfy” booklet for school administrators, which promotes Eggo waffles, multigrain Frosted Flakes, Cheez-Its, and Pop- Tarts as examples of “good nutrition and simple grains.”
  • McDonald’s “Enjoy Eating the Food Groups at McDonald’s” handout, which highlights the premium chicken sandwich’s bun as half a serving of whole gains (never mind the 1,410 mg of sodium in the crispy premium chicken sandwich) , and a Canadian Style Bacon Egg McMuffin as an example of “protein” (that Egg McMuffin is cooked in partially hydrogenated oils).
  • PepsiCo’s “Sodium Content of Commonly Consumed Snack Foods”, which makes Frito-Lay’s chip offerings seem like the best snack choices (in comparison to large muffins, beef jerky, pretzels, bagels, and cheese). Conveniently, other common snack foods that would make chips pale in comparison – like fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds – are missing.

The report also covers a much-anticipated point-counterpoint debate planned by the Academy that was supposed to touch on the issue of partnerships between the private and public sectors, but instead had one speaker staunchly defend GMOs, mock those who care about organics and sustainability, and claim that blaming Big Food and Big Ag for society’s ills was akin to blaming the Wright Brothers for the attacks of September 11, 2001.

DFPI additionally lists its current demands to the Academy as they continue to engage in dialogue on this issue (including greater financial transparency and revisiting a survey by the Academy’s Hunger & Environmental Dietetic Practice group which showed that dietitians considered Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Mars to be “unacceptable” sponsors), and suggests ways the Academy can improve FNCE and weaken Big Food’s vice grip over the annual event.

Download and read the report here. NOTE: The report reads best downloaded and opened on Adobe Acrobat.

A photo gallery of 2013 FNCE is located here.

Be sure to visit Dietitians For Professional Integrity’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account to stay up to date with the latest developments.

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11 Comments

  1. Mister G said on November 18th, 2013

    I hear you. And, I think you had a valid argument – until I looked closer at the pdf. You have page after page of the “big bad food companies” present, but then provided a very small paragraph dedicated to what you consider the “good” food present. And, you decided to focus on a tube feeding product? I’m all for calling out the “bad” at this expo, but why not provide equal attention to the good? To be fair, also present were Nut boards and nut butters, a variety of fruit and vegetable boards, dairy companies (providing low fat/non fat products), and eggs. In fact, Hass Avocado Board had one of the biggest booths on the expo floor. I’m just looking for some unbiased, even reporting of a conference and expo that caters to both the “bad” and “good” side of the food industry…

  2. Andy Bellatti said on November 18th, 2013

    We mentioned many companies (i.e.: Manitoba Harvest, Nutiva, Mary’s Gone Crackers); we simply highlighted the whole food-based tube feeding product as our favorite *new* product.

    We also acknowledge there have been improvements over the years, and specifically point out the presence of bean, legume, nut, and seed trade groups (which did not have booths 20 years ago).

  3. tess said on February 9th, 2014

    Go ahead — tell your readers that MICHAEL SPECTER was the jerk who played devil’s advocate when it comes to the LIES coming from the manufactured-food world! Let me repeat that again — have to make sure that your (necessary) self-protection attempts don’t conceal the duplicity and underhandedness of this jerk:

    MICHAEL SPECTER — defending GMOs
    MICHAEL SPECTER — painting cautiousness as wimpy
    MICHAEL SPECTER — insulting, playing with strawmen and LYING

    There … that should make the record a little more complete.

  4. Paul Verizzo said on February 13th, 2014

    Similarly, the American Diabetic Association (??) is sponsored by every corporate “food” sponsor. The same ones that pretty much assured a Type 2 tsunami.

    It’s simple: Eat real foods. Don’t buy from the center aisles. Minimize/eliminate anything in a box or a can.

    Speaking from experience,

  5. Halley said on May 14th, 2014

    WHY!? I can’t really think of who would be good big biz sponsors as far as restaurants. But for instance, Chipotle might be better than McDonalds, especially with all their marketing in the last year about fresh, natural ingredients. I don’t know how much “better” they are for you, but anything has got to be better than McDonalds. That stuff is death. To me, the great golden tits of america are synonymous with pink slime. To even have the audacity at a nutrition convention to say “there are healthy mcd options. it’s ok to go there!” Is rather horrific. I guess baby steps?

    And corn!? With the war on corn again to even attempt to put it in a positive light, shivers. How will they recover from this catastrophe?

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