At issue is the organization’s support of the junk food industry.
Nutrition organizations and health advocates have long criticized the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the former American Dietetic Association) for its collusion not only with the junk food industry, but with the pharmaceutical and agriculture industries.
Tamar Schriger, a dietitian from Metuchen, New Jersey, who now lives in Israel, is claiming that AND/ADA is violating its Code of Ethics by participating in an Israeli nutrition conference that lists McDonald’s as a major sponsor. The conference begins next week.
Schriger, a dietitian in private practice, sent a letter to AND/ADA’s president, Sylvia Escott-Stump, who is scheduled to address the conference, asking her and her international affiliate representatives to withdraw their participation.” As of this writing, Escott-Stump has not yet responded to the letter.
According to the organization’s Code of Ethics, an AND/ADA practitioner “promotes or endorses specific goods or products only in a manner that is not false and misleading”—and that, Schriger claims, is exactly where the organization is erring: “The king of junk food should not be sponsoring a conference titled ‘Mediterranean Diet in the Life Cycle.’ It sends the wrong message on several levels.”
Schriger says some of the AND/ADA’s international affiliates replied to her letter and expressed surprise at the McDonald’s sponsorship, noting that some of their own countries have maintained strict guidelines that prohibit companies that produce infant formula, cigarettes, alcohol, and fast foods from sponsoring industry conferences.
Of course, AND/ADA has a long history with junk food, as we have reported previously. The organization receives payments from Coca-Cola, Hershey, Mars, PepsiCo, and others, though the organization won’t say exactly how much they receive from these companies and industry associations. Not only that, AND/ADA’s credentialing arm, the Commission on Dietetic Registration, has offered continuing professional education courses sponsored by Coca-Cola. At the annual AND/ADA conference, both Big Farma and the junk food industry were clearly represented.
Besides McDonald’s, the Israeli Nutrition Week Conference is sponsored by pharmaceutical giants Abbott Laboratories and Novartis, medical equipment companies Baxter International and Teva Medical, and Megapharm, Israel’s leading private biotech company, among others.
At least Schriger is taking the Code of Ethics seriously, since it calls for dietetics practitioners to uphold the profession by “reporting perceived violations of the Code through the processes established by ADA and its credentialing agency, CDR.” We admire what she has courageously done.
The AND/ADA has a number of bills pending in state legislatures to create a monopoly on the practice of nutrition, effectively barring Certified Nutrition Specialists and others, many with more advanced degrees in the field, from making a living. If you haven’t done so already, please take action and stop these dangerous bills!
Note: Click here to see our follow up article and our response to AND/ADA
 While the organization changed its name from the American Dietetics Association (ADA) to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) in January, most people still call it the ADA and don’t yet recognize its new initials, AND. Until the new name “takes root” with people, to avoid confusion we will refer to the organization as AND/ADA.
Update 6/7/12: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Schriger was a Registered Dietitian (RD). Although Schriger practices as a dietitian in Israel, she is not a Registered Dietitian, a title authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.