In an interview with FoodNavigator-USA following his appointment as the first Chief Science Officer of food and nutrition consulting and communications agency, the former USDA man looked back on his previous achievements and ahead to life with FoodMinds.
In his new role, Dr Post will work closely with FoodMinds partners and co-founders Bill Layden, Laura Cubillos, RD, and Susan Pitman, MA, RD, to advise clients on the critical science and evidentiary issues facing the food, beverage, nutrition, health and wellness industries today.
Dr Post’s illustrious career includes appointed and career executive positions at USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and the Food Safety Inspection Service Office of Policy. Dr Post was also a key figure in advising on nutrition and health communications matters for the White House Let’s Move! initiative since its inception.
“I’m supportive of it [Let’s Move!],” Dr Post told us. “It has provided a great deal of visibility about nutrition and it was a long-time needed, so in that regard it has been successful.”
The food industry, including major trade organizations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Beverage Association were quick to pledge their support to the Let’s Move cause in 2010, when GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey said: “We agree that everyone has a role to play, including industry. We embrace our responsibility.”
Dr Post agreed that the initiative has been “a great way for a lot of food companies to contribute. I think it set up an environment for collaboration and partnership, a unique situation that had not been constructed before, to bring a lot of food companies together.”
Commenting on his move to FoodMinds, Dr Post said that there are quite a lot of opportunities with the consultancy to use his experiences using science and translating them to promote public health.
His new job description also includes him helping to co-lead counsel on changes in the nutrition affairs environment, including dietary guidance, marketing, and food labeling, to achieve client and public health objectives. Additionally, he and Pitman will spearhead the opening of a FoodMinds office in Washington, DC.
“Rob’s experience and knowledge on public health and food and nutrition policies, coupled with his insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the food and nutrition industry today will be a tremendous asset to our clients and our talented team members,” said Bill Layden, FoodMinds co-founder.
Dr Post, who also plans to continue his adjunct professor role at the University of Maryland, joins the FoodMinds team of 24 employees and more than 40 experts across the U.S. and globally, including eight registered dietitians on staff.
“I’ve worked closely with the FoodMinds team for many years and have always been impressed by their science-based knowledge and strategies they bring forward for their clients,” said Post. “I’m looking forward to shaping key programs that will continue my professional ability to have a positive impact on public health.”
While at the USDA Post also led the development of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the creation of the USDA Nutrition Evidence Library, and directed the evolution of the food pyramid into the next generation MyPlate, leading the phenomenally successful multi-faceted consumer communications campaign.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its MyPlate icon in 2011, replacing MyPyramid, which had long come in for criticism. MyPlate takes the form of a plate sliced into four colored wedges representing fruits, vegetables, grains and protein, with a small circle set beside the plate to represent dairy.
“The MyPlate symbol is a powerful one,” he said. “It is there to inspire people to make healthier choices.”
Questions over its success have been raised, with a report from the NPD Group in 2011 indicated that the average American diet comes close to matching up with the USDA’s MyPlate icon just 2% of the time. However, Dr Post is quick to note: “MyPlate doesn’t prescribe or make recommendations. I think there is confusion with the dietary guidelines.
“We knew at the USDA that 90% of registered dietitians are using MyPlate, and awareness of MyPlate among consumers is about 65%. That’s progress,” he said.
FoodMinds also recently hired John Musolino as chief operating officer; Sarah Ladden, MS, RD, as senior account supervisor; John Thompson as assistant account executive; Alex Kumar as controller; Cory Kemp as staff accountant; and Anna Franzo as administrative assistant.