February 15, 2017; CBS News (Associated Press)
On Wednesday, public health advocates found quite the prize in their processed-snack box: a $25 million pledge to fund public education on the role of corporate influence in the food and nutrition industries. Kind bar founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky says he’s pledging that amount to create “Feed the Truth,” an organization he says will advocate nutritional science and lobby for improved food information for consumers.
Lubetzky says the operation will work independently of Kind and its popular snack brand. So far, he’s recruited some big names to advise the group: Deb Eschmeyer, the former director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative; Marion Nestle, a New York University nutrition professor; and Michael Jacobson, cofounder and president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The advisors will eventually appoint a board of directors and determine programming and policy goals.
Lubetzky says that Feed the Truth has inspired recent reporting on the food industry’s influence in nutrition research, and by his own research. Kind was called out by the FDA last year for the use of the word “healthy” on some of its bars. The bars contain more than the one per-serving gram of saturated fat allowed by the FDA for foods using that label. Kind argued that the fatty components of its bars—almonds and avocado oil—were not in fact unhealthy and that the FDA was using outdated guidelines.
Kind has risen in profile in recent years. Partly due to its guerrilla marketing tactics, emphasis on “real” ingredients, and public-facing commitment to philanthropic causes, Kind has been one of the fastest-growing snack companies in recent years. This move will likely further align Lubetzky’s company with health advocates, although it may open Kind to criticism that the company is, just like other food companies, attempting to sway policymakers in its favor.—Lauren Karch