Blog | Rachel Begun, MS, RD

#RepealTheSeal – An Update on Academy Action

RepealTheSeal-collage

(The image above represents a small sampling of the many voices who have spoken up in support of the #RepealTheSeal campaign. While we are unable to post each image here, we thank each and every person for their support and commitment to calling for a resolution on this issue. ~Rachel Begun, MS, RDN)

Earlier today, Regan Jones, Kate Geagan and I posted the following update to the supporters of the #RepealTheSeal petition on Change.org. I am reposting that update here with a personal word of thanks to all of you who reached out to show your support of this campaign, as well as to share your words of encouragement. As the update below states, the public forum by which we launched this campaign has always been grounded in the desire to spark real change and press for decisive and timely action.

#RepealTheSeal – An Update on Academy Action

In launching the #RepealTheSeal campaign and starting this petition, we have remained committed to creating a professional and respectful platform for RDNs to express their concerns about this issue to the Academy. This public step was taken only after multiple formal channels were followed during our respective careers on similar issues to little response.

We decided to speak out publicly because we believe credibility is everything. We also believe that our organization is stronger when we take action to make it better. Our intention has always been to be a spark for change and to fight for the principles of our organization and our profession.

In March 24th’s Wall Street Journal article — http://www.wsj.com/articles/eat-right-meltdown-for-kraft-singles-1427152818 — the Academy stated that it “is working toward changing any perceptions of endorsement.”

To our ears, this means the Academy is keeping their decision intact and continuing to explain the rationale, rather than taking meaningful steps to keep the Kids Eat Right (KER) logo off product packaging, as was requested in our #RepealTheSeal petition.

 

#RepealTheSeal Impact
Without all of you, we couldn’t have achieved the overwhelming impact that we have, including:

  • More than 11,000 signatures — composed primarily of RDNs, Academy members and dietetic interns
  • Millions reached through social media — the #RepealTheSeal hashtag has been shared on Twitter to more than 1.7 million accounts, which represents almost 5 million total possible impressions
  • More than 40 blog posts — Academy Members, Dietetic Students and Health Professional Blogs have voiced their concerns through their blogs, reaching tens of millions of online readers

We are deeply grateful to all of our colleagues and fellow RDNs who have added the power of their voice, both publicly and privately, to express disagreement over the Academy’s decision to allow the KER logo on food packaging.

 

Call to Action
To date, the Academy has not responded with the actions requested in our original petition. A resolution on this issue may only come if your pressure remains strong. Email your State and DPG Leadership and ask that these petition requests be addressed by the Academy now, and not pushed back to future meetings.

Thank you to all who have supported this petition.

Best,
Rachel Begun MS, RDN
Kate Geagan MS, RDN
Regan Jones RDN


Petition to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – #RepealTheSeal

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I am participating in the #RepealTheSeal campaign to show my disagreement with the Academy’s recent decision to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto food packaging. I invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers who share this opinion, or who support this campaign, to also post this Open Letter on their own blog, to sign the petition at change.org, and/or to use #RepealTheSeal hashtag via social media. – Rachel Begun, RDN

As a long-time member and proud supporter of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I have joined forces with two of my colleagues–Kate Geagan, MS, RDN and Regan Jones, RD–to petition the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics over their recent action to allow the Kids Eat Right Foundation (an arm of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) logo on the packaging of Kraft Singles cheese products.

Below please find our petition letter as well as instructions for how anyone interested (RDNs or non-RDNs) can sign the petition and post it to your own blog and social media platforms so that we can garner as many signatures as possible.

PETITION/OPEN LETTER TO THE ACADEMY OF NUTRITION AND DIETETICS/KIDS EAT RIGHT FOUNDATION

March 16, 2015

To Mary Beth Whalen, President Sonja Connor, leadership at the Academy and the Kids Eat Right (KER) Foundation:

As long-time members and proud supporters of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), we are dismayed, shocked, and saddened by the blog post in last week’s New York Times. The piece (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/a-cheese-product-wins-kids-nutrition-seal/?_r=0 – ) reports on the KER Foundation’s Nutrition seal— a seal that the Academy states was not an endorsement of the product, but is an indicator of the brands that support Kids Eat Right.

As dedicated Registered Dietitians/Nutritionists and food and nutrition experts, we are protesting the Academy’s position to allow the Kids Eat Right logo on Kraft Singles, as well as the possibility to allow any future implied endorsement of any product by AND for the following reasons:

Flawed Understanding of the Marketplace

We wholly reject the rationale that the Academy used in their formal press release to defend the nature of the relationship between Kraft and the Academy. A logo on a product label is an endorsement, an alignment, and recognition of a paid relationship. Simply stating otherwise in a press release, no matter how emphatically, doesn’t change this fact. Rather, AND’s actions illustrate how profoundly out of touch AND is with business principles, which has put our professional integrity and credibility at risk. It is also a decision that is out of touch with members’ values.

Failure to Provide Transparency to AND Members and Consumers

We work hard to provide full transparency in all of our own business relationships, and we expect the same from the Academy. Failure to be transparent about ANDs actions violates the Academy’s own Ethics Policy*, which calls for the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and for members to not engage in false or misleading practices of communications.

Actions Requested of the Academy: #RepealTheSeal

We ask that the Academy make available to its members, the media and the public the following:

  • We ask for full transparency regarding the process of approval to allow the KER logo on the Kraft product— including the names of those involved, the meeting minutes of the discussion, and Board’s vote on this issue.
  • We ask for full disclosure of the terms of the financial agreement between KER Foundation and Kraft. We also request full transparency regarding the status of future agreements under consideration for use of our Logo.
  • We ask the Academy to provide their plan for the discontinuation of this specific relationship with Kraft and removal of the KER logo off Kraft Singles product packaging.

Academy members deserve strong leaders who will protect the integrity of the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist credential. This latest action is an embarrassing misstep that must be corrected swiftly in order to prevent further damage to the RD/RDN brand and to the Academy.

Sincerely,

Rachel Begun MS, RDN
Kate Geagan MS, RDN
Regan Jones, RDN

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP IN 3 EASY STEPS:

PETITION – Sign the petition at change.org (https://www.change.org/p/the-academy-of-nutrition-and-dietetics-kids-eat-right-foundation-repealtheseal?just_created=true), which outlines the steps we are asking that The Academy and KER take to rectify this situation.

POST – Post the above Open Letter to the Academy and KER leadership on your blog and/or social media platform(s) to reach your peers and audience. Please use the #RepealTheSeal hashtag. While we kindly ask that you keep the Open Letter intact, if you have any additional thoughts or commentary that would be of interest to your readers, please feel free to include that in your own post.

PROMOTE – Please share this Open Letter and/or links to the petition on your social media platforms or your blog, and please feel free to invite others to repost on their blogs and social media networks. If you do share this on your blog, please include the following suggested language to help your audience understand how they can help support the campaign:

I am participating in the #RepealTheSeal campaign to show my disagreement with the Academy’s recent decision to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto food packaging. I invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers who share this opinion, or who support this campaign, to also post this Open Letter on their own blog, to sign the petition at change.org, and/or to use #RepealTheSeal hashtag via social media.

We thank you for your support!

*American Dietetic Association/Commission on Dietetic Registration Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics and Process for the Consideration of Ethics Issues. J Acad Nutr Diet 2009;109(8):1461-1467.

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