Kraft Singles Is 1st Food Allowed to Display 'Kids Eat Right' Logo

National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics insists it's not an endorsement.

ByABC News
March 13, 2015, 2:27 PM

— -- Kraft Singles will soon display the "Kids Eat Right" logo from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics -- and some observers worry consumers will get the wrong idea and view it as an endorsement.

The academy, the world's largest organization of registered dietitians and nutrition professionals, said the appearance of the logo on the processed cheese product is not an endorsement or seal of approval. It's more like an ad for Kids Eat Right, according to the academy, though, in a reversal of how most ads work, Kraft paid the advertiser -- the academy -- an undisclosed amount to place the logo.

"Kraft is putting the Kids Eat Right logo [on its packaging and] saying Kraft is a proud supporter of Kids Eat Right, not vice versa," Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesman Ryan O'Malley said. "The academy has never once endorsed any product, brand or service, and we never will."

He said he hopes the logo will help direct people who buy Kraft Singles to the Kids Eat Right website. Only products the academy collaborates with can display the Kids Eat Right logo, and there are no plans for a second product in the works, O'Malley said.

Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at NYU Langone Medical Center, said he was "99.9 percent" sure consumers would read the logo as an endorsement from nutritionists and dietitians. Because he knows people don't read the fine print on labels such as this one, Caplan said he's not comfortable with logos such as the academy's appearing on food.

"I have nothing against eating Kraft Singles," Caplan said, adding that he would feel the same way if the Eat Right Logo appeared on broccoli. "The notion here is that they're more nutritious or better for you. Or it could be understood to mean that you can eat an unlimited supply."

Jessica Bennett, a registered dietitian at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said many consumers don't read labels at all, but she expected those who do will now think Kraft Singles are a health food. She said when General Mills added whole grain labels to sugary cereals, it led some parents to think those cereals were healthy. Yes, they have whole grain, she said, but they're also loaded with sugar.

"I think it can be confusing for a consumer," she said of the Kids Eat Right logos. "It could be taken for a healthy product."

Still, the product is fine, she said.

"It's high in calcium. There is a protein component," she said. "In moderation, it's perfectly fine, especially if you have a kid that doesn't drink milk or doesn't like to eat broccoli or other green vegetables."

In a statement to ABC News, Kraft spokeswoman Jody Moore said Kraft and Kids Eat Right will collaborate on a "nutrition education campaign" for three years "to raise awareness that the diets of America’s kids are lacking in three important components -- dairy, calcium and vitamin D."

She said the logo will drive traffic to a new website that will stress the importance of dairy and cheese. Proceeds of Kraft Singles sales will not go to the academy or its foundation.

Although the singles contain calcium and vitamin D, they also contain 200 milligrams of sodium per slice, according to the Kraft website.

Cheese was named the eighth-leading source of protein among U.S. children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stressed that diets high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to Kraft's website, a grilled cheese sandwich with two of its single slices contain 870 milligrams of sodium, or 40 percent of a child's daily allowance.