NFPA News Release

More Collaborative Efforts Needed to Increase Consumer Understanding of Nutrition and Food Safety, Says NFPA

(Washington , D.C.) – In response to the publication of a report by the National Academies of Science, titled “Exploring a Vision: Integrating Knowledge for Food and Health,” Dr. Rhona Applebaum, Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), made the following comments:

“Many of the suggestions in this report – including the promotion of greater nutrition and food safety awareness, integrating food-health research with behavioral studies, and beginning nutrition education in early childhood – reflect recommendations NFPA has long made. NFPA believes that increased communication, collaboration, and cooperation is needed among all stakeholders – including government, industry, academia, public health professionals and societies, and consumers – on various research and educational activities.

“Behavioral studies and early childhood nutrition and food safety education are particularly important. In comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is now considering revisions to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans , NFPA has strongly advocated a greater role for behavioral research in issues related to diet and health, as well as education targeted to all consumers, especially school age children as part of the education curriculum.

“Consumer education activities must place an emphasis on messages that are clear, understandable, and that actually motivate consumers to create safe and healthful diets and lifestyles. The ‘Calories count’ message now being emphasized by FDA in its Action Plan to address obesity represents just such an approach to communicating the basics of nutrition and weight management to consumers. FDA also has emphasized that nutrition labeling, found on virtually all processed foods, can help consumers to make food choices that will assist in creating healthful diets.

“It is important to note that the food industry provides a variety of foods to meet a wide range of nutritional needs and lifestyles. All foods can be part of a healthful diet; the key is to help consumers understand that there is no ‘magic bullet.’ The only ‘magic’ that exists is in selecting a diet that is balanced, varied, and moderate, coupled with a good dose of physical activity. We need to do a better job of explaining how this decades-old nutrition tenet can best resonate with today’s consumers. Consumers need more education on how to eat, not what to eat

“Just as we believer there is no single solution to increasing consumers’ understanding of nutrition and food safety, NFPA also does not believe that a single ‘champion’ to promote awareness of the interdependence of food and health, as suggested in this report, is the correct approach. Greater collaborative efforts – involving all stakeholders rather than emphasizing one individual – are far more likely to result in heightened and sustained consumer awareness and successful outcomes on issues dealing with nutrition and food safety.”