The International Food Information Council (IFIC), a food industry front group with many ties to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics friend receives funding from the usual suspects — including, but not limited to, Cargill, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, General Mills, Mars, McDonald’s, Monsanto, PepsiCo, Red Bull, and Yum! Brands (parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and WingStreet).
This IFIC fact sheet, titled What Is A Processed Food? You Might Be Surprised!”, demonstrates how food industry front groups spin science in an attempt to assuage public concerns about their clients’ products.
The fact sheet mentions that breakfast cereals, like frozen vegetables and roasted nuts, are processed. It conveniently fail to mention that, unlike most breakfast cereals, the freezing of vegetables and roasting of nuts does not obliterate nutrients. Nor do frozen vegetables and roasted nuts contain, as some breakfast cereals do, artificial dyes, partially hydrogenated oils or up to a tablespoon of added sugar.
IFIC also relies on a familiar food industry tactic — absurdly tying modern-day processing techniques to traditional ones.
“Food processing began about 2 million years ago, when our ancestors put flame to food,” the fact sheet reads. Of course, heating food has nothing in common with partially hydrogenating oils, or processing corn into a sweetener. The food industry is aware that people are increasingly concerned with hyper-processed products, and trying to link the term “processed food” to chopping a carrot or cooking a piece of fish is one way of perpetuating deception.
We want RDs to be aware of front groups so that, when they attend educational sessions or panels that may initially appear to have no food industry ties, they can spot these representative organizations.