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Nutritionist Takes Food Companies to Task

Label this presentation with the advisory: Warning - May Induce Cringes Among Food Industry Executives.

Nutritionist Marion Nestle cheerfully eviscerated the food industry and its marketing at the CIES World Food Summit in New York today with her scathing commentary on food labeling.

Displaying brand-name products on screen like breakfast cereals that cover their packaging with health claims yet fill the contents with an assortment of sugars, Nestle called on the industry to end that type of behavior and begin taking a sincere approach toward providing nutritious foods.

"Healthy foods for children should be the default, and if parents want foods that are not as healthy, they should have to ask for them," instead of the other way around, she said.

Justin King, the chief executive officer of U.K.-based Sainsbury's, joined her on stage after her talk and likewise chastised the food industry for the types of marketing behavior that seek to pass off unhealthy foods as healthy.

"We shouldn't be proud of some of the things we are doing," he said. "Some of what Marion showed here today is disgraceful."

Nestle, a professor at New York University and nutrition author, also called on food companies to end their support of the Center for Consumer Freedom, which she said is "doing the dirty work" of the food industry by seeking to push more responsibility for healthy eating onto the consumer.

"She showed some real [guts] to get up in front of a room full of executives from food companies and say what she did," said one observer after the presentation.