I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but just in case, last week, the first “Kids Eat Right” label given by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics went to Kraft Singles. Yep, those individually wrapped slices of processed cheese that for many are a ubiquitous part of childhood. This story has been featured in US News, NY Times, and even Jon Stewart has made fun of us for it.
So why does this matter? While the Academy’s official stance is that the label does not qualify as an endorsement or “seal of approval”, the public doesn’t view it that way. I recently conducted a grocery store tour with another Georgia State student and during the course of the hour I spent with him wandering the aisles and talking about food choices, I realized just how overwhelming it can be to look at packages and boxes and new foods and have no idea how to tell what’s healthy and what’s not. I consider myself lucky to be going into this profession, to have the knowledge and skills I have to make sound food choices every day. But the majority of this nation doesn’t have that opportunity. They walk into a store and (if we are lucky) look for some sign from a trusted, reputable organization to guide them towards healthier choices. The Kids Eat Right label looks like just that. To the public, it looks like a shining seal of approval. It screams “PLEASE EAT ME! I AM GOOD FOOD!”
As RD’s we already spend so much of our time fighting food myths. How many times have you been asked about juice cleanses? Gluten free diets for weight loss? The newest supplement/pill/”superfood”? At least for me, the constant need to battle incorrect nutrition information has contributed to part of my intense reaction to the labeling of Kraft Slices. I am now not only fighting for what I know to be healthy with the public while also trying to contradict the stereotype of being the “food police”, but now I am at odds with the organization I turn to for trusted, evidence-based information.
What can we do about it? Luckily, we live in an age where our voices can be heard now more than ever. So make them heard! Facebook, Instagram and Tweet about it with #RepealtheSeal. Contact your state and DPG House of Delegates affiliate as well as Academy President Sonja Connor and President-Elect Evelyn Crayton and let them know how you feel. Sign the petition on Change.org along with over 7,500 other dietitians.