The Road To The Corporate Registered Dietitian
Many food companies and food corporations are now hiring Registered Dietitians to provide their expertise with the products being sold. If you have ever attended the annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, you’ll see many corporations in the expo with Registered Dietitians on full-time staff acting as spokespeople, assisting with recipe and ingredient modification, and optimizing the nutritious components of the food products.
Penelope Clark, MS, RD, CDN, is a partner at Connect Nutrition Group, a leading company connecting their clients with health and food professionals. Clark has been on the forefront of working with many corporations by partnering them with RDs for events, media/marketing campaigns, writing, public policy and more. Clark informs that many food companies are hiring RDs because the companies “want to increase the number of nutritious products in their portfolios and to update current products’ ingredients to make them more nutritious to meet new internal corporate nutrition guidelines.” Also with many of the food regulations and laws constantly changing, having an RD on staff can assist with maintaining the industry standards. For example, a few states such as California and New York have implemented nutrition labeling laws at restaurants. The RDs on staff at the corporate headquarters for the restaurants have assisted with analyzing the menu items.
Working for a corporation always has its ups and downs. Some people may not agree with every product sold by a specific food company. However, working within an industry can ensure that certain action measures are being made to endorse and encourage positive changes. Change is made from within, so the dietitian has the ability to positively influence the existing product by increasing the nutritional components of existing products and/or offering more healthy options. For example, Clark states RDs are positively influencing the nutrition profile of foods products such as for saturated/trans fat, sodium, sugar, whole grain, etc, as well as through providing nutrition and lifestyle education materials for health professionals and consumers reaching thousands of consumers to help them improve their diets and lifestyle.
Networking is the best way to get a job within a food corporation. Talk to current RDs already working for the company you are interested in. Use job engine searches such as NutritionJobs.com to find a job opening. Make connections at the next expo or event you attend that is being sponsored by a corporation. Many of these companies have RDs on staff. If they do not already, they may be looking for one. Promote your self by informing the company how you would benefit them.
Clark concludes that she loves her job because she is passionate about food and nutrition and she has combined her work with her passion. “Working with food companies and food associations is exciting because with each new project or product the work has similarities, but many new aspects so I am constantly learning new things,” exclaims Clark. So what company do you fancy? The jobs are out there!