I am participating in the #RepealTheSeal campaign to show my disagreement with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ recent decision to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto food packaging. I invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers who share this opinion, or who support this campaign, to also post this Open Letter on their own blog, to sign the petition at change.org, and/or to use #RepealTheSeal hashtag via social media. -Jessica Serdikoff, RDN CPT [originally posted by Regan Jones, RDN]
Today, we’re talking politics. Some of you may have heard of the recent Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ [our national professional organization] endorsement-not-endorsement of Kraft American singles as they embark on a new
financial professional partnership. If you aren’t familiar with the issue, please take a moment to read the link above, along with the official Academy press release. If that’s all too much, let me catch you up: Kraft American Singles now carry a “Kids Eat Right” sticker on their label; Kraft says it’s an endorsement by the Academy; the Academy says it merely shows Kraft’s support of the Kids Eat Right program; 99% of registered dietitians appear to be appalled and embarrassed either way; and much of the general public is a little perplexed by a partnership between this country’s national association for nutrition experts and the company that invented homogenized, processed “cheese product.”
Three guesses which side of the fence I’m on.
Fortunately, I am not alone. I am surrounded by progressive, strong, and passionate colleagues who have refused to compromise their integrity in a world that doesn’t always want to hear what they have to say. And they will not stand by idly and watch their professional footing lose hold, nor will I. I do not sign petitions enthusiastically; I find them to be, more often than not, superficial placation in our pursuit of feeling righteous without needing to act that way in daily life. I sign petitions when they are grounded in action, when I can do more than raise my hand and say, “me too.”
I cannot tell you to agree with me, or to support the cause in any particular or vague way. I can only put my voice out there and ask that you not lose faith in my profession as it struggles to find its united voice in a society structured against it. And if you feel compelled, in the end, to raise your hand and say, “me three,” well, thank you.
Three dietitians — Regan Jones, Rachel Begun, and Kate Geagan — have drafted an OPEN LETTER [printed below] stating that (1) we do not support this type of logo placement (2) we request that the on-package logo be repealed and (3) we request full transparency by AND & KER about this partnership to ensure this does not happen in the future.
March 17, 2015
To Mary Beth Whalen, President Sonja Connor, leadership at the Academy and the Kids Eat Right (KER) Foundation:
As long-time members and proud supporters of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), we are dismayed, shocked, and saddened by the blog post in last week’s New York Times. The piece (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/a-cheese-product-wins-kids-nutrition-seal/?_r=0 – ) reports on the KER Foundation’s Nutrition seal— a seal that the Academy states was not an endorsement of the product, but is an indicator of the brands that support Kids Eat Right.
As dedicated Registered Dietitians/Nutritionists and food and nutrition experts, we are protesting the Academy’s position to allow the Kids Eat Right logo on Kraft Singles, as well as the possibility to allow any future implied endorsement of any product by AND for the following reasons:
Flawed Understanding of the Marketplace
We wholly reject the rationale that the Academy used in their formal press release to defend the nature of the relationship between Kraft and the Academy. A logo on a product label is an endorsement, an alignment, and recognition of a paid relationship. Simply stating otherwise in a press release, no matter how emphatically, doesn’t change this fact. Rather, AND’s actions illustrate how profoundly out of touch AND is with business principles, which has put our professional integrity and credibility at risk. It is also a decision that is out of touch with members’ values.
Failure to Provide Transparency to AND Members and Consumers
We work hard to provide full transparency in all of our own business relationships, and we expect the same from the Academy. Failure to be transparent about ANDs actions violates the Academy’s own Ethics Policy, which calls for the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and for members to not engage in false or misleading practices of communications.
Actions Requested of the Academy: #RepealtheSeal
We ask that the Academy make available to its members, the media and the public the following:
- We ask for full transparency regarding the process of approval to allow the KER logo on the Kraft product— including the names of those involved, the meeting minutes of the discussion, and Board’s vote on this issue.
- We ask for full disclosure of the terms of the financial agreement between KER Foundation and Kraft. We also request full transparency regarding the status of future agreements under consideration for use of our Logo.
- We ask the Academy to provide their plan for the discontinuation of this specific relationship with Kraft and removal of the KER logo off Kraft Singles product packaging.
Academy members deserve strong leaders who will protect the integrity of the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist credential. This latest action is an embarrassing misstep that must be corrected swiftly in order to prevent further damage to the RD/RDN brand and to the Academy.
Jessica Serdikoff, RDN CPT
Rachel Begun MS, RDN
Kate Geagan MS, RDN
Regan Jones, RDN
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists colleagues listed at change.org
If you would like to join the #RepealtheSeal movement, here are some things that you can do:
Sign the petition.
All fellow dietitians can write a letter [you can find a skeleton letter at the dietitians for integrity facebook page] to your house of delegates representative(s).
Tweet or repost the following: As an RD[mom/parent/American/doctor/etc.], I’m appalled with the @eatrightkids label on @kraftsfoods Singles, endorsement or not. #RDchat #RepealtheSeal
Repost this open letter on your own blog or facebook page.
And most importantly, educate others on the importance of reading labels front and back, choosing whole foods over processed ones, and being their own advocate in the supermarket and in life.