By Claire Masker

Americans are hungry for accurate nutrition information, but it’s easy to be confused in a world of information overload. Even registered dietitians are seeking answers to a wider range of questions about food, including pork.

“When I joined the Pork Checkoff team, most of my conversations with health professionals involved pork’s nutrient profile and how pork fits into a healthy lifestyle,” said Adria Huseth, manager of nutrition communications. “Now the conversations have shifted to include pork production, animal well-being and sustainability.”

The Checkoff supported four events in 2018 to interact with dietitians and provide the answers they seek.

Farm tours influence perspectives. In 2018, registered dietitians toured farms, prepared new pork recipes and expanded their network. The 25 attendees took part in events held in Oklahoma, North Carolina or Iowa.

“Participants asked tough questions about antibiotics, sustainability and animal welfare,” said Dave Pyburn, senior vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff. “Getting the facts helps alleviate concerns many had prior to the tours.”

Surveys show that 58 percent of attendees viewed livestock farming as extremely or very favorable pre-tour compared with 86 percent post-tour.

Registered Dietitian Summit connects pork, health and Latinos. Checkoff research shows Latino Americans consume more pork but have health concerns about it. During the Registered Dietitian Summit, the Checkoff showcased pork nutrition research, highlighted the versatility of lean pork cuts and answered questions about raising pigs.

“Dietitians are an important link in spreading the message about pork’s role in a healthy diet,” said Jose de Jesus, director of multicultural marketing for the Checkoff.

Food and Nutrition Conference/Expo includes virtual reality farm tours. Nearly 11,000 registered dietitians flocked to Washington, D.C., this fall for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ annual gathering. They could tour a pig farm through virtual reality headsets at the Checkoff’s booth.

“This sparked a lot of great conversation about pig farming,” said Charlotte Rommereim, a registered dietitian and pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota.

FoodFluence 2018 targets thought leaders. The Checkoff sponsored this invitation-only food and nutrition thought-leadership conference for 32 registered dietitians who have broad reach to consumers through publications and social media.

“Attendees wanted to hear about sustainability, animal welfare and responsible antibiotic use,” said Rommereim who spoke at the event. “I appreciated the chance to answer their thoughtful questions about how we raise pigs today.”