by Daisy Luther
In the most mind-boggling conflict of interest you may have seen in quite a while, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) has put out a “fact” sheet on the “benefits” of processed foods for the members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
First, here’s a little background on the cast of characters in this little propaganda drama.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is “the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals” and is made up of registered dieticians and dietetic technicians. Their mission states, “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a multidimensional organization that strives to improve the nation’s health and advance the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy.” The group claims to be ” the public’s and news media’s best source for the most accurate, credible and timely food and nutrition information” and they are committed to the ongoing education of their members and the general public.
The International Food Information Council
The IFIC is “your nutrition and food safety resource”, allegedly committed to helping out both consumers and professionals. According to their website, ”The International Food Information Council Foundation provides food safety, nutrition, and healthful eating information to help you make good and safe food choices.”
The IFIC sounds absolutely awesome until you learn who their sponsors are: ”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).”
The Dietitians for Professional Integrity
Finally, we have our heroes, a group of rebel dietetic professionals. Dietitians for Professional Integrity stand for everything that is right about the field of nutrition and dietetics. They promote real food for real health. Their mission:
We are a group of concerned dietetics professionals advocating for greater financial transparency, as well as ethical, socially responsible, and relevant corporate sponsorships within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This website was created to let you know more about who we are and why we do not think Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and other Big Food giants should sponsor the country’s largest nutrition organization.
Our efforts are guided by professional integrity. We believe the American public deserves nutrition information that is not tainted by food industry interests. Those of us who co-founded Dietitians for Professional Integrity are nutrition experts first and foremost; we went to school to help people achieve better health through food, not to help multinational food companies sell more unhealthy products. (source)
Hey – The “Experts” Say that Processed Food is Not That Bad!!!!
The IFIC has put together a propaganda handout/”fact” sheet, “What Is A Processed Food? You Might Be Surprised!” for the benefit of the members of the AND. (Read it and weep RIGHT HERE.)
The professional watchdog group, Dietitians for Professional Integrity, points out the blatant dishonesty of the flyer.
[The "fact" sheet] … 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. (source)
The flyer is also quick to laud the many wonders of corn (one of the major sources of toxic GMOs in the North American food supply) and to patronizingly try to convince us that we completely misunderstand the noble purposes of the food industry. They are trying to actually serve up food that is fresher by processing it until it is chemically unrecognizable as food.
Back in January, the AND received harsh criticism from another industry watchdog, Eat Drink Politics, because of corporate conflicts of interest.
Public health attorney and author Michele Simon asks: Are America’s nutrition professionals in the pocket of Big Food? While the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 74,000-member trade group partners with the likes of Coke and Hershey’s, the nation’s health continues to suffer from poor diet.
The largest trade group of nutrition professionals—the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—has a serious credibility problem. In a damning report released today, industry watchdog Eat Drink Politics examines the various forms of corporate sponsorship by Big Food that are undermining the integrity of those professionals most responsible for educating Americans about healthy eating.
The report details, for example, how registered dietitians can earn continuing education units from Coca-Cola, in which they learn that sugar is not a problem for children and how Nestlé, the world’s largest food company can pay $50,000 to host a two-hour “nutrition symposium” at the Academy’s annual meeting. (source)
This is a clearcut case of the foxes telling the chickens how to best build their henhouses. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can maintain no credibility whatsoever when they are being “educated” by Big Food, who is not at all interested in consumer health, but only in health of their bottom line. AND likely started out as a positive organization dedicated to good health, but they were sidetracked along the way by all of the money that Big Food threw in their path.
If you wonder why the public is so confused about what constitutes good nutrition you need look no further than the propaganda being spouted by these so-called “experts” and beacons of ”continuing education.” There is a real problem when the people sponsoring the nutrition lessons are the very purveyors of GMO crops, potato chips, soda pop, and fast food.
Many people are out there trying valiantly to make the best possible choices for their families on limited budgets, but they must combat the constant disinformation on product labels that herald phrases “all-natural”, “heart-healthy”, and “low-fat”. These folks are being deliberately deceived by food manufacturers, but even worse, by professional societies like the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all so the rich can get richer while the poor get sicker.