To Mary Beth Whalen, President Sonja Connor, leadership at the Academy and Kids Eat Right (KER) Foundation:
I am a long-time members and proud supporters of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), but myself and fellow nutrition colleagues - Rachel Begun
and Regan Jones
, are dismayed, shocked, and saddened by the blog post in last week’s New York Times. The piece
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.
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists colleagues listed at change.org
* American Dietetic Association/Commission on Dietetic Registration Cod of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics and Process for the Consideration of Ethics Issues. J Acad Nutr Diet 2009;109(8):1461-1467.
How You Can Help: 3 Steps
We are asking your help in harnessing the power of our collective voices to make known to the public and the Academy 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 do not happen in the future.
- PETITION - Sign the petition at change.org, which outlines the steps we are asking that The Academy and KER take to rectify this situation.
- POST - Post this Open Letter to the Academy and KER leadership on your blog and/or social media platform(s) to reach your peers and audience. Please use the #RepealTheSeal hashtag. While we kindly ask that you keep the Open Letter intact, if you have any additional thoughts or commentary that would be of interest to your readers, please feel free to include that in your own post.
- PROMOTE - Please share this Open Letter and/or links to the petition on your social media platforms or your blog, and please feel free to invite others to repost on their blogs and social media networks. If you do share this on your blog, please include the following suggested language to help your audience understand how they can help support the campaign:
While we all have different passions within the field of food and nutrition, we believe we are united in our feeling that this was a misstep that has put our own professional credibility in jeopardy. We hope that you will consider joining us.
Rachel Begun MS, RDN, Kate Geagan MS, RDN and Regan Jones RD
UPDATE The following is a listing of posts by bloggers who are supporting the #RepealTheSeal campaign. Please visit their sites for more thoughtful commentary on this issue.
Regan Jones, RD @ TheHealthyAperature
Rachel Begun MS, RDN @ The Gluten Free RD
Lindsay Livingston, RD @ The Lean Green Bean
Rachael Hartley, RD @ Avocado A Day
Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD & Serena Ball, MS RD @ Teaspoon of Spice
Gretchen Brown, RD @ Kumquat
Alanna Waldron, RD @ Eat Real Food
Alex Caspero, RD @ Delicious Knowledge
Anne Mauney, MPH, RD @ Fannetastic Food
Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD @ Southern Fried Nutrition
Ashley Colpaart, MS, RD @ Epicurean Ideal
Christina Schu, Dietetics Student @ The Beautiful Balance
Hannah Eddy, Dietetic Intern @ The Wholey Trinity
Jessica Serdikoff, RDN, CPT @ Floptimism
Sarah Moran, RDN @ Sarah Moran Nutrition
April Graff, RD @ This RD Eats
Emily Hein, RDN @ Zen & Spice
Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, ACSM, @ US News Health (Eat + Run)
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD @ Robin's Bite
Yoni Freedhoff, MD @ Weighty Matters
Marie Spano MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD @ Performance Nutrition
Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN @ Simple Cravings. Real Food
Jennifer Pullman, RD @ Nourished Simply
Parke Wilde @ U.S. Food Policy
Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN @ Caroline Kaufman Nutrition