Nutritionists Say Your Kid Should Chow Down on Day-Glo Processed Cheese

Are more Kraft Singles what’s needed to make sure ‘Kids Eat Right’?

(Photo: Lew Robertson/Getty Images)

Mar 12, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to make sure that America’s youth eat well—and that parents know what to buy at the grocery store in order to make that happen.

To that end, the industry trade group set out to make a label to tip consumers off to the best foods they can buy for their kid’s health. It’s called “Kids Eat Right,” a name shared with the group’s broader nutrition education campaign. On Thursday, the group announced the first product that would bear the coveted seal of approval that’s backed by 75,000 registered dietitians and others who work in nutrition.

And the product is: Kraft Singles.

According to Kari Ryan, Kraft’s director of nutrition, science, and regulatory affairs, it’s all about calcium. As she told The New York Times, more than three-quarters of kids between 4 and 18 need more calcium in their diet. Ryan, a dietitian, is also a member of the academy.

Kraft Singles may contain calcium—a full 20 percent of the recommended daily value in a slice—but the rubbery orange slices have repeatedly come under fire for not being “real food.” While that may be a stretch—they are partly made from reprocessed cheese, and that cheese was, once upon a time, fresh dairy milked from a real-life cow—they aren’t exactly the kind of low-calorie, high-fiber, whole-grain food that diet research has shown to be best for your health.

Kraft calls the label an endorsement; Kids Eat Right tells the Times that the logo “identifies the brand as a proud supporter of Kids Eat Right.” But not every harried parent shopping for cheese in the grocery store is going to split hairs if they see a product bearing a seal that suggests is good for their kid.

From the consumer perspective, it looks like the country’s leading nutrition group is saying that the one food that, more than any other, most strongly symbolizes the overprocessed nature of the American diet is the best thing to feed kids.