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by Kevin Coupe

How far will $25 million go? Is it enough to not just promote truth and transparency in the food system, not to mention "revealing and counteracting the food industry's undue influence" gained through marketing and lobbying dollars?

We may find out.

Daniel Lubetzky, founder/CEO of KIND Healthy Snacks, has committed to fund an organization called Feed The Truth to the tune of $25 million over the next decade. The goal is to "ensure science overrules special interests by revealing and counteracting the food industry's undue influence in shaping nutrition policy and ability to disseminate biased science, among other activities that are detrimental to public health. While specific programming will be decided by an Executive Director that will be appointed by the Board of Directors, activities could potentially include grants to support investigative journalism, consumer education campaigns and educational briefings to policymakers and influencers."

Lubetzky's initial contribution of $5 million will be supplemented by an additional $20 million over the next ten years.

"In establishing Feed the Truth, my intent is to elevate reputable science, bolster the voices of the nutrition community, and improve the guidance and information offered to Americans," Lubetzky said. "As a business owner, I understand the importance of prioritizing your bottom line, but it's equally as important to consider how you can succeed while also thinking about the long-term impact on the community."

The mindset behind Feed The Truth is consistent with Lubetzky's motivations when he started his snack food company - which got into an argument with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) a couple of years ago over the use of the word "healthy" on labels, which it maintained was based on obsolete, scientifically imprecise definitions that had been unduly influenced by industry-funded research.

Lubetzky seems to take that whole aversion to industry influence seriously. Other than providing the seed money, he has removed himself entirely from the activities and governance of the organization, and has assembled what he calls "three unaffiliated public health advocates whose sole role is to nominate Feed the Truth's Board of Directors. The advisors all have offered their expertise voluntarily and are not being paid for their involvement. They include Deb Eschmeyer, former Executive Director of Let's Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at The White House; Michael Jacobson, PhD, Co-Founder and President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest; and Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University.

"We're eager for Feed the Truth to step in and hold all of us in the food community accountable for what we say and claim," Lubetzky says.

In other words, an Eye-Opener.
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