If you saw this logo on a package of cheese, would you think it was an endorsement by a group of nutritionists?
Or would you think it was an invitation to visit the website of the nutritionists?
This is not an academic question. The nation’s largest organization of nutritionists just licensed its Kids Eat Right logo to Kraft Singles, a fake cheese product.
Kraft is the first company to use the logo, the identity of a program that nutritionists started in 2010. According to ABC News, “there are no plans for a second product in the works.”
That sounds like an exclusive.
The seal is the property of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Foundation, the world’s largest association of registered dieticians and nutritionists. In a news release, AND claimed that the partnership with Kraft is intended to raise awareness of the need for including dairy, calcium and vitamin D in diets.
AND spokesman Ryan O’Malley told ABC News that “he hopes the logo will help direct people who buy Kraft Singles to the Kids Eat Right website.”
Neither AND nor Kraft have revealed how many dollars changed hands in this licensing agreement. The NY Times reports that it is a three-year agreement.
Rather than a endorsement, which is what it looks like when a product sports a logo like this, AND claims that the logo means only that Kraft is a “proud supporter” of the initiative. Think that’s going to be clear to consumers? Me, neither.
Oh. And Kraft was confused, too.
Kraft itself told The Times it was the first time the academy was endorsing a product.
Comparison: Kraft and Tillamook
This nutritional and ingredient comparison pits Kraft Singles against real cheese from Tillamook, an Oregon dairy cooperative.
Tillamook Medium Cheddar Slices
- Serving Size 3 slices (34g)
- Calories 140
- Calories from Fat 100
Nutrition information is for three slices
|% Daily Value*||Amount||%|
Kraft Singles: not real cheese
You may be asking yourself, what’s going on here? After all, there are lots of real dairy products on the market.
Since 2002, Kraft has been prohibited from calling Kraft Singles a “pasteurized process cheese food.”
That’s because Kraft doesn’t include enough cheese.
The FDA protects consumers by regulating the use of food terms. In this case:
- Pasteurized process cheese: must contain 100% cheese
- Pasteurized process cheese food: must contain at least 51% cheese
- Pasteurized process cheese product: food products that contain some cheese but totals less than 51%
According to Fast Company, the Food and Drug Administration warned Kraft that it was engaging in false advertising.
So Kraft changed the tag line to “pasteurized prepared cheese product“.
This is not the first time that Kraft has run afoul of FTC guidelines.
In 1992, Kraft lost its judicial challenge to an FTC ruling prohibiting ads that implied Kraft Singles contained as much calcium as 5 ounces of milk.
Kraft Singles do contain more calcium than regular cheese. However, that comes at the cost of a heckuva lot of sodium.
The reason there’s more calcium: the product has been fortified with milk protein (milk protein concentrate, MPC). Not fortified, really, because what Kraft has done is substitute MPC for cheese. Cheaper to produce.
MPC contains both casein and whey proteins but no lactose. But it’s never been approved by the FDA as a food additive.
Read that again. Not an approved food additive.
In 2009, some dairy farmers held a press conference to discuss a 15% increase in dairy product imports (at the same time that dairy prices here were plummeting). MPC turned out to be the key. That’s because, these farmers claimed, the milk proteins might be from cows but they could also be from buffalo.
Last fall, the FDA acknowledged that the American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) believe that MPC fall under the “Substances Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) rule.
The agency has not, however, made its own determination regarding the GRAS status of the subject use of MPC and MPI. As always, it is the continuing responsibility of ADPI and USDEC to ensure that food ingredients that the firm markets are safe, and are otherwise in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
 FDA does not currently have a standard definition for “milk protein concentrate” or “milk protein isolate” but relies on the information provided by the notifiers, as well as published information regarding the identity and specifications for the ingredients.
The U.S. Dairy Export Council represents manufacturers and farmer-owned cooperatives; it was established in 1995 by Dairy Management, Inc. And DMI is funded through a national check-off program by all of the nation’s 47,000 dairy farmers.
Kraft Singles contain an emulsifier
In order to facilitate “melting”, Kraft Singles include sodium citrate. This salt is an emulsifier that helps create a soft, easily melted cheese. (Note: real cheese “melts” and makes a great grilled cheese sandwich, too. The emulsifier is needed because of all the processing that goes into this product.)
Sodium citrate does have side effects. From drugs.com: avoid if you’re taking the antibiotic tetracycline or the decongestant pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
Do not use citric acid/ sodium citrate if you have aluminum toxicity, untreated Addison disease, low or no urine production, high blood potassium, congestive heart failure, heart damage, or severe kidney problems, or if you are dehydrated.
h/t: Food Politics