Mudd also refutes the idea that Kraft and companies like it are simply giving consumers what they want — not forcing them to eat it.
“Over the years, relentless efforts were made to increase the number of ‘eating occasions’ people indulged in and the amount of food they consumed at each,” he writes. “Even as awareness grew of the health consequences of obesity, the industry continued to emphasize cheap and often unhealthful ingredients that maximized taste, shelf life and profits. More egregious, it aggressively promoted larger portion sizes, one of the few ways left to increase overall consumption in an otherwise slow-growth market.”
Mudd concludes that not only does the food industry know it has a problem, it uses tactics similar to those of the National Rifle Association in its attempts to camouflage itself as just one in many causes of the growth in obesity.
“Food companies must be made to change their worst practices,” he adds. “After years of foot dragging and hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying fees, it’s obvious the industry won’t change on its own. Quite simply, change will have to be forced — by public pressure, media attention, regulation and litigation.”
Add this stinging revelation to this week’s Mother Jones post about the remarkable nutritional similarities between Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Kellogg’s Reduced-fat Cheez-its crackers, which quotes a nutritionist at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health as saying the Kraft product “actually has a few extra additives, even compared to Cheez-its” but that “otherwise, the two … are pretty nutritionally equivalent.”
Dairy long has avoided the stigma attached to processed foods. But when people think of Kraft, they think of macaroni and cheese. And as is often the case, many processed foods rely on great-tasting cheese or dairy products to give them the flavor profile and mouthfeel consumers want. The dairy industry would do well to examine the end uses of the products it sells and think twice before putting dairy’s halo at risk. And that doesn’t mean milk producers get a pass, either. Producers have a responsibility to communicate with their cooperative leaders to ensure this matter is being taken seriously.
The time for shrugging and filling a customer’s request without thinking about the bigger picture has come and gone.