As we’ve mentioned in the past, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics inexplicably has a very close relationship with McDonald’s. McDonald’s had a session at last year’s conference (which was described by some who attended as an hour-long advertisement for the chain), and this past April, McDonald’s Director of Nutrition (a registered dietitian) spoke at the Utah Dietetic Association meeting, presenting egg white McMuffins and grilled chicken wraps as “healthful” offerings. The fast food chain has also specifically targeted and invited dietitians to symposiums and “farm to field” events (these trips are not to CAFOs from which McDonald’s sources its beef, but rather to lettuce farms).
On several occasions, the Academy has pointed to McDonald’s ‘promises’ and ‘pledges’ as evidence that the food industry is ‘making efforts’ to provide healthier fare.
Alas, history proves otherwise. And if there is one important lesson those of us in the world of food and health advocacy need to always keep in mind is to never forget history.
In this article, public health lawyer Michele Simon covers the latest McDonald’s controversy (the chain’s claim to ditch soda from its Happy Meals) and cites several past examples of the fast food giant’s deception and questionable behavior.
As Simon notes:
“Global food corporations like McDonald’s have a long history of using reputable institutions to give public relation stunts like these greater legitimacy”. The Academy could become a forward-thinking and leading health organization if, rather than play into McDonald’s PR game, it rightfully stood up for millions of Americans and called out corporate mind games.