Great post on Dr. Marion Nestle’s Food Politics blog today — a Q&A on food professionals’ relationships with food companies.
Two questions that especially spoke to us:
“Q. Do you believe that relationships between the food industry and nutrition professional organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the Association for Nutritional Science (ASN) are problematic? Why?
A. Sponsorship by food product makers puts nutrition professionals in conflict of interest. Nutritionists ought to be advising clients and the public about what to eat to stay healthy and prevent chronic disease. This necessarily means promoting consumption of some foods but discouraging consumption of others. Nutritionists cannot speak truth to clients and protect corporate sponsorship at the same time. If nothing else, food industry sponsorship gives the appearance of conflict of interest and makes AND and ASN appear as arms of food company marketers. But it also affects—or appears to affect–AND ’s and ASN’s positions on key issues in nutrition and health. Overall, financial relationships between these organizations and their food industry sponsors undermines the credibility of their positions on food issues.”
Q. What sort of changes do you think the Academy needs to make in order to make food industry relationships more beneficial to its members and the public overall?
A. Nutrition and food professional organizations need to establish a firewall between corporate sponsorship and content or opinion. This requires setting up rigorous guidelines for what food companies can and cannot expect from their donations. They should not, for example, be permitted to sponsor content sessions at meetings, not least because opinions expressed at sponsored sessions rarely appear objective. The organizations should have complete control over how and where corporate donations and company logos are used.”
Let’s hope leaders at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics listen to this advice — and to the ever-growing voice of its constituents who have expressed concern over their professional organization’s food industry ties for years.