Daniel Lubetzky, the Founder and CEO of KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND), recently announced the launch of Feed the Truth. Established as an independent organization, Feed the Truth will seek to improve public health by making truth, transparency and integrity the foremost values in today’s food system.
Given what we’ve learned about Coca Cola’s hand in obesity studies and Monsanto’s hand in food allergy research, it is well past time to shine a brighter light on the conflicts of interest in science.
To ensure Feed the Truth’s independence from KIND, Lubetzky will remove himself entirely from all activities and governance of the new organization. He has assembled three unaffiliated public health advocates whose sole role is to nominate Feed the Truth’s Board of Directors. The advisors, all of whom have offered their expertise voluntarily and are not being paid for their involvement, include:
- Deb Eschmeyer, former Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at The White House
- Michael Jacobson, PhD, Co-Founder and President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest
- Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University
Feed the Truth will ensure science overrules special interests by revealing and counteracting the food industry’s undue influence in shaping nutrition policy and ability to disseminate biased science, among other activities that are detrimental to public health. While specific programming will be decided by an Executive Director that will be appointed by the Board of Directors, activities could potentially include grants to support investigative journalism, consumer education campaigns and educational briefings to policymakers and influencers.
“In establishing Feed the Truth, my intent is to elevate reputable science, bolster the voices of the nutrition community, and improve the guidance and information offered to Americans,” Lubetzky said. “As a business owner, I understand the importance of prioritizing your bottom line, but it’s equally as important to consider how you can succeed while also thinking about the long-term impact on the community.”
Lubetzky’s journey to create Feed the Truth began in 2004 when his frustration with a lack of wholesome, nutritious snacks in the marketplace led him to launch KIND. What began as a line of whole nut & fruit bars sparked the creation of an entirely new healthy snacking category and gave Lubetzky a window into long-held industry operating procedures that often benefited companies financially at the expense of public health.
In May 2015, KIND faced a public confrontation with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) over the company’s usage of the term “healthy” as a nutrient content claim on its packaging. The FDA’s guidance – which was established over 20 years ago – limited total fat intake, regardless of source or type, and prevented demonstrably nutritious foods like nuts, salmon and avocado from being labeled as “healthy.” After months of exploration and discovery, KIND filed a Citizen Petition, with the support of leading nutrition and public health experts, requesting the agency update the regulation to be consistent with modern nutrition science.
By September 2016, the FDA announced it would begin the process of revising this regulation and offered a sensible interim solution – both of which incorporated KIND’s recommendations. That same month, a JAMA Internal Medicine report found that in the 1960s the Sugar Association funded scientific studies to diminish findings that linked sugar consumption to poor heart health. Instead, the Association used industry-funded research to vilify fats – an act that would go on to directly inform the government’s dietary guidance, spur a surge of low-fat, high-sugar products, and ultimately, distort consumer perception of all dietary fat.
“We’re eager for Feed the Truth to step in and hold all of us in the food community accountable for what we say and claim,” said Lubetzky. “While this ‘Big Sugar’ revelation underscored the need to provide more tools to public advocates, it doesn’t mean that ‘fat’ or ‘protein’ should now be evangelized. Feed the Truth’s independent Board of Directors, once established, will seek to ensure consumers have access to unbiased nutrition information.”
“This commitment could have a salutary effect on educating the public about nutrition and cleaning up deceitful marketing practices,” said Michael Jacobson.
Lubetzky’s donor advised fund has made an initial contribution of $5 million to Feed the Truth. Lubetzky intends to fund an additional $20 million over the next ten years.
To learn more and get involved visit FeedtheTruth.org.