As you’ve probably heard, Congress recently blocked new USDA rules intended to improve nutrition in school lunches. Among them was a requirement that pizza slices have more than a 1/4 cup of tomato paste in order to qualify as containing a vegetable. Big food heavies such as Coca-Cola, Del Monte, the American Frozen Food Institute, and the National Potato Council weighed in to preserve the school-lunch status quo.
What you may not have heard about is how large companies and industry groups have also managed to infiltrate conferences for nutrition professionals. The biggest one — the American Dietetic Association conference — is now sponsored by the likes of Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Mars. I highly recommend this entertaining and appalling report on Food Safety News, which comes complete with photos of a giant can of Goldfish crackers dangling from the trade show ceiling and a Coca-Cola booth bearing the slogan “Promoting the Registered Dietician.” Panels included — I kid you not — one called “A Fresh Look at Processed Foods.”