The CEO of snack-bar-maker Kind is pledging $25 million of his own hard-earned food-industry dollars to help “fight the food industry’s influence on public health,” the AP reports today. Daniel Lubetzky, who launched the health-oriented snack company in 2004, says that money will be used to create a watchdog group he’s calling Feed the Truth that will “improve public health by making truth, transparency, and integrity the foremost values in today’s food system.”
He apparently felt the recent spate of stories about Coke’s troubling sway on nutrition science was beyond the pale, so this is an attempt to curtail the industry’s “undue influence in shaping nutrition policy and ability to disseminate biased science.” Lubetzky tells the AP neither he nor Kind will have any involvement, and that the group’s 100 percent free to scrutinize them because “We don’t have any skeletons in our closet.” He’s assembled a team of three public-health advocates to nominate directors for Feed the Truth’s board. It’s actually an impressive crew of advisers: Deb Eschmeyer (the former executive director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign), Michael Jacobson (president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest), and Marion Nestle (the NYU public-health professor).
Nestle tells the AP the irony of a watchdog group created by the head of company whose last foray into food policy was a public fight with the FDA about whether its products were “healthy” isn’t lost on her. But says she found Lubetzky “very persuasive” and felt Feed the Truth could actually help hold corporations accountable.
Lubetzky says he broke the donation down into $2.5 million a year for the next ten years. It’s unclear if Feed the Truth will accept funding from other food companies. Although that would seem a little … self-defeating, Lubetzky says it’s ultimately up to the new board.