Who would have ever thought that Kraft singles — the individually wrapped, bright orange "cheese" product of our childhood — would ever be considered healthy?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — that's who.
According to the New York Times, the academy actually thinks we should be feeding the "food" we used to sneak when Mom wasn't looking to our kids. In fact, it's the first product to earn right to display the academy's "Kids Eat Right" seal on its packaging.
If you're confused, you're not alone. The FDA obviously has never allowed Kraft to call the slices "cheese," but they're not even allowed to designate them as "pasteurized process cheese food" because then they'd have to be made up of at least 51% real cheese. Instead, the singles bear the mouthwatering moniker "pasteurized process cheese product."
Here's the complete list of ingredients in Kraft's American singles:
- Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes)
- Protein concentrate
- Sodium citrate
- Calcium phosphate
- Sodium phosphate
- Lactic acid as a preservative
- Annatto and paprika extract (color)
- Vitamin A palmitate
- Cheese culture
- Vitamin D3
Well, the academy emphatically denies that the label is an endorsement; instead, it's more like an ad. "Kraft is putting the Kids Eat Right logo [on its packaging and] saying Kraft is a proud supporter of Kids Eat Right, not vice versa," Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesman Ryan O'Malley told ABC News. "The academy has never once endorsed any product, brand or service, and we never will."
Let's be real though: No one reads the fine print. Most consumers are going to read the logo as an endorsement from nutritionists and dietitians.
And over the last few years, the academy has been criticized for cozying up to Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg, and ConAgra.
"You would think an organization that has come under fire for so many years for its relations with food companies might pick something other than a highly processed cheese product for its first endorsement," said Andy Bellatti, a founder of Dietitians for Professional Integrity.
So while Kraft can definitely count this as a win (especially since they're being paid for to feature the label), slapping a pseudo-endorsement for kid's health on such a highly processed food will probably do some damage to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' reputation.
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