Earlier this month, we shared the news that top PepsiCo lobbyist Joel Leftwich is taking over as the Agriculture Committee’s chief of staff as it prepares to rewrite federal child nutrition policy.
In her Food Politics blog, New York University’s Dr. Marion Nestle shares some more information as well as her thoughts on why this raises a red flag:
“[Leftich’s] connection to PepsiCo raises concerns. The Ag committee will be dealing with several issues involving sodas and snack foods opposed by some members of Congress. Some of those issues include school nutrition standards, SNAP nutrition standards, and the 2015 dietary guidelines — all areas where sugar-sweetened beverages and added sugars are hot topics of conversation.
Clearly, agricultural policies affect public health in highly prominent ways. That’s why we need to do a much better job of connecting food policy to health policy. And that’s why having a leading PepsiCo lobbyist in charge of agricultural committee staff raises serious concerns about conflict of interest.”
The same concerns come up when health organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (one of many) take money from companies like PepsiCo, too.