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January 22, 2020

Executive Compensation at the International Food Information Council

by Anne Paddock

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) and the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF) operate out of the same office in Washington, DC. In order to understand these two organizations, they need to be viewed together:  one is a non-profit tax-exempt business trade association and the other is a non-profit tax-exempt organization.

IFIC is a 501 (c) (6) – a business trade organization supported by Cargill, Bayer, Barilla, Chobani, Coca-Cola, Dow Dupont, General Mills, Hershey, Mars, McDonalds, PepsiCo, Red Bull, and many more companies from the food, beverage and agricultural industries. These organizations pay membership dues ($3.2 million in 2017).  Dues are not tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

IFIC reported total revenue of $3.6 million, most of which came from membership dues ($3.2 million) and reimbursement from IFICF ($391,000). Expenses totaled $3.5 million, most of which came from two categories:  compensation ($2.6 million) and office-related expenses ($0.5 million).  The compensation of $2.6 million was for the 19 employees, which equates to an average compensation of $137,000.  The following employees were the most highly compensated:

  • $548,741:  Joseph Clayton, President and CEO
  • $274,793:  Geraldine McCann, SVP Finance and Admin
  • $190,585:  Sylvia Dumitrescu, VP Communications
  • $156,253:  Mathew Raymond, Senior Director
  • $146,862:  Anthony Flood, Senior Director
  • $133,807:  Alex Lewin-Zwerdling, VP Research and Partnerships
  • $123,998:  Ronald Sollid, Senior Director

It is important to note the compensation above is from IFIC and IFICF (through reimbursement). The Form 990 for IFIC only reports 3 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation and IFICF reports no employees. This is because the employees above received a portion from each organization.

IFICF is a 501 (c) (3) – a non-profit tax-exempt foundation supported by contributions (that are tax deductible as a charitable contribution). In 2017, IFICF reported total revenue of $734,000, almost all of which came from contributions and gifts. Expenses totaled $810,000, most of which was spent on payments ($300,000) to an affiliate (IFIC), a special project ($249,000), and office-related expenses ($113,000)

In 2017, IFICF provided $300,000 to an affiliate which is assumed to be IFIC. The Form 990 (2017) reports IFICF paid IFIC $417,200 in 2017 for allocated costs (which appears to be reimbursable costs for sharing an office and employees).

According to the website of the IFICF/IFIC:

We bring together, work with, and provide information to consumers, health and nutrition professionals, educators, government officials, and food, beverage, and agricultural industry professionals… we have a long-standing relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion as part of the Dietary Guidelines Alliance*, a public-private partnership focused on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate Food Guidance System.

Our website serves as a nutrition and food safety resource for consumers, health professionals, journalists, educators, government officials, and students.

*It is important to point out the mission of the USDA is to expand markets for agricultural products. At that same time, this federal agency is responsible for protecting the public health by developing and advocating dietary guidelines for Americans. The problem with having both mandates is that there is an inherent conflict of interest which means the guidelines sometimes favor the interests of the agriculture, food, and drug industries over the public’s interest in getting accurate and impartial dietary advice.

According to the Center for Food Safety, IFIC is a front group formed by large corporations to deliver information that appears scientific and unbiased but instead aims to mislead or confuse the public into trusting their companies and the products they produce. The Form 990 does not verify this but at a minimum there seems to be a huge conflict of interest based on the food, beverage and agricultural companies supporting IFIC.

A better organization to trust for food, beverage, and agricultural information is Nutrition Facts (www.nutritonfacts.org) – a 501 (c) (3) non-commercial, science-based public service providing free updates on the latest in nutrition research via short (3-5 minute videos) or blog posts.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017) for IFIC, click here.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017) for IFICF, click here.

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