Kraft Cheese Singles, a popular topping for everything from hamburgers to crackers, are the center of a controversial relationship with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, according to a Wall Street Journal article published on March 23, 2015.
At the core of the controversy is the working relationship between a supposed health advocate organization and a large public company known for its tendency to use artificial ingredients and other potentially unhealthy additives in its products. Specifically, health advocates are outraged over Kraft Food’s desired use of the Academy’s “Kids Eat Right” logo on its cheese slices. This logo is supposed to represent a product that is deemed healthy/wholesome for children but many feel that Kraft Cheese Singles are not even close to representing a healthy food.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has formed a partnership with Kraft Foods and this has led some to suspect that the Academy might be caving to financial pressure and endorsing a food that its members know is not deserving of such praise. Academy spokesman Ryan O’Malley knows the organization is treading on thin ice.
“The academy is working toward changing any perceptions of endorsement,” said O’Malley.
Kraft Cheese singles are accurately described as a pasteurized prepared cheese food. This description is hardly one that one would expect for a health food. The singles are made with some actual cheddar cheese, but also include added milk, whey, milk fat, milk protein concentrate, and sodium citrate.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has about 75,000 members including nutritional professionals at varying levels. The organization works closely with policy makers and hence plays an important role in determining what we eat and how it is labeled. But like any health organization, it has to be very careful when it works with for- profit corporations like Kraft Foods because conflicts of interest can easily arise and money can get in the way of sound decision making.
Some feel the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has already damaged its reputation through its Kraft Foods partnership and other corporate relationships. Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, is one such critic.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics “has become a laughingstock,” says. Nestle. “Its viewpoints are so tainted, they’re so deeply influenced by their sponsors that it’s hard to take them seriously.”
Kraft Cheese Singles are certainly not the least nutritional food a child can eat, but parents need to think long and hard before accepting an endorsement labeling this item as health food. Kraft Cheese Singles do contain a decent amount of calcium and a few other nutrients, but bad qualities are present as well and some say they cancel out the good.
Even if the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics “Kids Eat Right” logo isn’t necessarily an official health endorsement, it is bound to be interpreted that way by millions of consumers and concerned parents. Everyone should remain wary of such labeling on Kraft Cheese Singles or any other food until the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics comes forward with an official disclosure and a clearer explanation of its intentions.