Recognizing the irrefutable connection between diet and chronic disease, the medical community is increasingly starting to advise patients on what—and where—to eat. To that end, the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) and the Institute for Responsible Nutrition (IRN) announced today that they have merged their efforts to promote REAL Certified, a nutrition and sustainability trust mark for food and foodservice establishments. Within the newly combined entity, the USHFC will continue to manage the audit and certification process, and the IRN, co-founded by Dr. Jordan Shlain and Dr. Robert Lustig, will serve as the scientific advisory board.
“Diet-related disease is the largest driver of preventable, chronic disease and health care costs, and the medical community is starting to appreciate the level of influence industry has over dietary habits,” says IRN co-founder and pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig. “The processed food experiment has failed, and there is only one solution: Eat real food.”
According to a recent study by McKinsey, the medical and economic costs of obesity alone cost the United States $2.0 trillion per year. And, as the amount of processed and prepared foods has increased, so have the consumption of added sugar, salt and fat, particularly for children in their formative years. REAL Certified was designed to serve as a simple tool to provide guidance to consumers looking to find healthier food, while incentivizing the foodservice industry to provide more healthful and sustainable options.
“Simply put, REAL Certified provides an easy way for consumers to make better food choices,” says Lawrence Williams, founder and CEO of USHFC. “By teaming up with medical experts such as the founders of the IRN, we can ensure that the REAL certification standard remains science-based and efficacious.”
REAL Certified is a voluntary, third-party trust mark that recognizes food and foodservice providers for the utilization of nutrition and sustainability best practices in the areas of Responsible (nutrition), Epicurean (preparation), Agricultural (sourcing) and Leadership (going above and beyond). The USHFC has certified close to 500 restaurants and institutional dining facilities across the United States. Recently certified establishments include such renowned players as the UCSF Medical Center, Boulder Valley Public School District, and Stanford University.
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