Today’s statement of concern comes from Jess Kolko, RD (Twitter handle: @jess_kolko):
“When I enthusiastically attended my first state FNCE as a student, wide eyed and new to our professional organization, one of the first lectures I attended was on the nutrition of eggs. When I saw that it was sponsored by the egg council, I commented to a fellow prospective RD that it would be difficult to get unbiased information in such a lecture. This lecture also (not surprisingly) did not touch on many of the food safety and animal welfare issues abundant in the large-scale corporate egg industry.
Throughout the conference, I was told that “RDs are THE nutrition experts” over and over. But how can we be nutrition experts when the bulk of our continuing education, including state and national conferences, are sponsored by big business food corporations? With such a shady partnership, it is highly improbable that we are getting an unbiased representation of any research. The more the Academy receives money from big food companies the less likely we will be seen as the “nutrition expert”, and instead the bought mercenaries of industry.
It’s appalling to see huge booths at FNCE (our annual conference) for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo (which includes Lays products), Hershey, Mars, Nestlé, the Corn Refiners Association and others that simply have no place in a nutrition conference. They drown out the handful of whole, real food booths who offer products that are actually in line with the Academy’s mission of improving the health of Americans.
Even more appalling: the long line of RDs waiting for freebees at the McDonald’s and Coca-Cola booths every day during the conference.
What I would love to see is exactly what respectable RDs are promoting to clients, friends, family and frankly anyone who will listen—more whole foods. Let’s kick big food to the curb. I don’t care how many free snacks and coupons are handed out at a conference, and I am not interested in what the “latest and greatest” high sugar, full of (added) fiber bar, and made-with-highly-processed-fats “snack bar” is out there. As the experts, we should know that yet another processed snack bar is not what will help people, regardless of how many grams of fractionated protein are added in.
What I do care about is the integrity of our profession, our professional organization and the health of our population. Even if, at least initially, our conference needs to be scaled back a bit (and less free junk would be available) without Big Food’s money, I know would be a much happier member. I am sure I wouldn’t be the only one.”