On Tuesday, September 30, Dietitians For Professional Integrity core group member Lauren Panoff attended a webinar titled “Processed Foods: Separating Facts from Myth,” hosted by the Nutrition Education for the Public (NEP) Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which dietitians could attend to earn continuing education credits.
The speakers were:
- Roger Clemens, DrPH
- Adjunct Professor, Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Sciences, USC School of Pharmacy, International Center for Regulatory Science
- Chief Scientific Officer, E.T. Horn Company (“one of the nation’s pre-eminent specialty ingredient and chemical distributors”)
- Fellow in the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)
- Served as Scientific Advisor for Nestlé USA for more than 21 years
- Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS
- Food and Nutrition Consultant, Duyff Associates
- Recipient of AND Prestigious Medallion Award
- Has consulted for Kraft Foods, the National Dairy Council, the International Food Information Council, and the Canned Food Alliance
Below is Lauren’s write-up:
“This webinar was quite frustrating to sit through, but not surprising given what we know about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Big Food ties.
The way that the speakers, especially Dr. Clemens, defensively scoffed at anyone who “misperceives” processed foods or thinks people should eat fewer packaged foods or animal products, was particularly disturbing.
Throughout the webinar, Dr. Clemens referred to “those people” to mean individuals who avoid eating animal products for health reasons, or who shun highly processed food products. Both speakers also commented that it is a “consumer misperception” to avoid highly processed ingredients.
The beginning of the webinar focused on how cooking, canning, fortification, and enrichment are all examples of “processing.” While I agree that they are technically forms of processing raw ingredients, the speakers completely avoided discussion of processed foods in the form of packaged items with heavily processed oils, refined grains, artificial sweeteners, and controversial chemical additives. Oddly, a raw banana was provided as an example of a “minimally processed food.”
The processed foods industry was framed as a misperceived and misunderstood industry (i.e. one speaker stating that Big Food is “just like grandma making dinner in the kitchen,” only on a larger scale).
One slide mentioned that the goal of processing food is to provide a “safe and abundant food supply,” and that washing produce was an example of “processing a food.” Throughout the webinar there was also an underlying message that Americans simply do not have time to cook from scratch, so instant mac ‘n cheese and frozen meatloaf TV dinners provide a variety of benefits.
On multiple occasions, both speakers encouraged listeners to take this message back to their patients/clients in order to reverse the consumer perceptions of processed foods and tell them that they can play a part in a healthy diet (i.e. pairing boxed microwave meals with fruits and vegetables).
This is another example of the insipid messages every RD is taught: “everything in moderation” and “everything can have a place in a healthy diet,” two messages that open the door for plenty of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.”
DFPI adds: Note, too, the absence of any speaker with a different take on the topic of processed foods. One reason why industry loves partnering up with AND is because they are pretty much guaranteed a forum where their opinions and spin go unchallenged.