- Processed food giants ConAgra and General Mills have been AND sponsors for 10 of the last 12 years.
- Among the messages taught in Coca-Cola-sponsored continuing education courses are: sugar is not harmful to children; "Aspartame is completely safe, including for children over one year"; and "A majority of studies have not found a link between sugar and behavior in children."
Big Food" companies such as Coca-Cola and Hershey have hijacked the largest association of nutrition professionals, according to a damning new report by pubic health attorney and author Michele Simon.
But the "deep infiltration" of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is largely unacceptable to the vast majority of its 74,000 members.
"The food industry's deep infiltration of the nation's top nutrition organization raises serious questions not only about that profession's credibility, but also about its policy positions," Simon writes in the executive summary of "And Now a Word Fr0m Our Sponsors: Are America's Nutrition Professionals in the Pocket of Big Food?"
"Some of the food companies’ products are full of questionable and/or harmful ingredients," registered dietitian Carla S. Caccia told Simon. "Are GMOs safe in moderation? I don’t know. Caramel coloring? High fructose corn syrup? Is lean meat still the healthy choice even though the animal was given general antibiotics? Is grilled chicken still the healthy choice even though it ate feed contaminated with arsenic? I don’t know and I’m supposed to be the expert! I would like to turn to AND for these answers but I can’t trust them because they are in partnership with food companies whose products are full of these things."
“The food companies are being very strategic,” Simon told nutrition educator and journalist Kristin Wartman in an interview. “They know that RDs are the vehicles through which information is carried to the consumers, so they want to make sure that their message gets out loud and clear to these professionals.”