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. In invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers, who also 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 #RepealThe Seal hashtag via social media. ~Diane Boyd, MBA, RD, LDN
This week, there’s been something keeping me awake at night. It’s of great concern to me as a registered dietitian and long term member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Today I am voicing my opinion about the partnership between The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids Eat Right (KER) Foundation and Kraft, which allows for the inclusion of the KER logo on packages of Kraft singles (the Academy’s formal press release can be read here.) AND states that this collaboration is an NOT endorsement or a nutrition seal of approval.
However, many members of AND, including myself, are discouraged and saddened by AND’s lack of transparency in this matter. Here’s our complaint:
As dietitians and nutritionists we work hard to provide full transparency in all of our own business relationships, and we expect the same from AND . In the business world, a logo on a product label conveys a seal of endorsement, an alignment, and recognition of a paid relationship.
Respected dietitian colleages Regan Jones RD, Rachel Begun, MS, RD; , RD and Kate Geagan, MS, RDN have spearheaded this campaign with an open letter to AND and the public (below) and a petition that anyone can sign. If you share our opinion, here are the steps you can take to help make a difference:
You don’t have to be a dietitian to help #RepealTheSeal:
1. Sign the petition at change.org which outlines the steps we are asking that the Academy and KER take to rectify the situation.
2.Post this open letter on your blog and/or other social media platforms and use the #RepealTheSeal hashtag
3. Invite others to repost on their blogs and/or share the petition link social media networks
March 16, 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.
Rachel Begun MS, RDN
Kate Geagan MS, RDN
Regan Jones, RDN
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists colleagues listed at change.org
*American Dietetic Association/Commission on Dietetic Registration Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics and Process for the Consideration of Ethics Issues. J Acad Nutr Diet 2009;109(8):1461-1467.