The Starkist Company Helps to “Feed The Children” [Interview][Transcript]

Guest: Laura Ali, RD

Presenter: Neal Howard

Guest Bio: Laura is a Registered Dietitian and the Manager of Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs for the StarKist Co. She has more than 25 years of nutrition experience ranging from clinical and outpatient nutrition counseling, retail and most recently with the consumer packaged goods industry.

In her current role at StarKist Co. she serves as the company nutrition advisor, recipe developer and driver of their health and wellness initiatives. She also oversees the regulatory and nutrition labeling initiatives for the company.

Segment overview: In this segment, Laura Ali, a Registered Dietitian and the Manager of Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs for the StarKist Co., discusses how the Starkist Company helps to “Feed The Children.” Learn more and support the cause at:

Transcription – How the Starkist Company helps to “Feed The Children

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, glad that you could join us today. Our guest is returning to talk with us Laura Ali, she’s a Registered Dietitian and Manager of the Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs for the Starkist Company. She’s got more than 25 years of nutrition experience ranging from clinical and outpatient nutrition counselling, retail and most recently as I said with consumer packaged goods industry specifically with Starkist. She’s with us today to talk about the Starkist Co., her background as a dietitian and ‘Feed the Children.’ Welcome back to Health Professional Radio Laura.

Laura Ali: Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.

N: Thanks for returning. Talk about your background as dietitian.

A: I’ve spent some time working with patients in a hospital setting. I worked with the oncology patients, cancer patients for about 9 years. My role there really was just teaching them different foods that they could eat to keep them strong and help them get through their treatments. As well as what to eat healthy, get strong after they were through their treatments and recovered. How they kind of recover from all of that. I’ve worked with patients with people with heart disease or diabetes who needed to understand what to eat, to help manage their treatment plan and stay healthy, so that they could live long and healthy productive life. I did that for about 15 years and then moved on to the food industry working with a retailer for a brief time and then into the packaged food industry where I am now, where my role really is teaching consumers about the products we offer, and how to incorporate these products into their healthy meal.

N: As you say teaching consumers about your products and how to incorporate them for more healthy lifestyle. In your travels how knowledgeable are we about the benefits of seafood overall and how the Starkist help to educate them even further about simply the benefits?

A: I think we’re becoming more aware of the health benefits of seafood. But with that said we know that majority of Americans don’t get anywhere near the 8-12 ounces of the seafood they need a week. We’re really working with consumers from providing recipe ideas, different usage ideas, ways that they can just kind of get a little bit more in each week to help meet the 8-12 ounces of seafood a week.

N: Are we talking seafood across the board or specific types of seafood?

A: We’re really talking seafood across the board. But, certain seafood that a little fattier has a little higher fat content like tuna and salmon. They provide good healthy omega 3 fatty acids. It is also very lean protein. They’re good source of vitamin D and some of our B vitamins that we need. Talking seafood across the board but a good portion of that seafood should be from the kind of the oily type fish.

N: Kids often are very, very picky eaters. If it doesn’t look great, smell right, if they didn’t see it on Facebook or have a text suggested texted to them they might not eat it. Talk about some of the initiatives that Starkist are involved with to educate our younger kids about the benefits or our young kids or kids’ period about the benefits of seafood in their diet at an early age.

A: We have a section on our website that is really fun called ‘Charlies World’. It’s a 3D virtual area on the website where the kids can go in and poke around and they’ll find different activity sheets that they can do of that will help them to educate them a little bit about seafood and health. There’s some different videos there and there is some places for mom to go where mom can find some fun recipes for kids to help kind of encourage them to try. Try seafood in different ways.

N: Some of our kids aren’t getting enough seafood but not enough to eat in general. What type of initiatives or activities that Starkist involved with when it comes to a little bit more than just educating kids?

A: One of our partners who share that we’re working with, worked with them last year’s organization called ‘Feed the Children’. It’s an organization that focuses on providing healthy food to family who can’t afford it themselves. They have a variety of different programs that they do but what we’re doing with them is providing Starkist tuna to them that will go in tear packages that get packed up for these families in different cities.

N: Are there any educational efforts ongoing to teach folks how to have a healthy diet as opposed to not just giving food or things that nature is an important, it’s the most important part? But as a dietitian making sure that folks have a well rounded knowledge of what they need to be healthy from a dietary standpoint.

A: Part of the ‘Feed the Children’ program along with providing the tuna, we’ll be adding in recipes and some tips and ideas for them on how to put together meals that are healthy and kind of feed their family in a healthy way based on the food that they’re getting in their tear packages.

N: What would you like to tell parents, I don’t know if there’s a sure fire, a magic bull or anything that even exist when it comes to our kids. Maybe something that some advice you can give to those parents about getting our kids more interested in seafood?

A: I think with kids you have to just keep trying. Like you said, kids can be picky and have often called food jags. They just don’t want try anything new or they don’t like a certain thing for a little while. So I think it’s important just to kind of keep trying and keep introducing it and find fun ways to work it in whether it’s having the kids make little pizzas after school and have tuna as one of the proteins they can put on. You can put them on a little ‘English Muffin’ and have them make it, or adding the different flavor, having them try it with a barbecue flavor. It helps kind of maybe take down that fishy taste a little bit. It gives them a taste they’re familiar with. Or ranch, kids love ranch dressing. Either take a pouch of tuna that a ranch flavored that Starkist offers or take regular tuna and mix them with some ranch dressing. But have them try that flavor profile and see if that something that they may be more accepting of. Then just make it easy for them, have them help you come up with how they want to try it.

N: Well that’s some great advice and I’m happy that you came in, return and talk with us again Laura.

A: Thanks for having me. It was great to be here.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard in studio with Laura Ali, Registered Dietitian and Manager of the Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs for the Starkist Co. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at You can subscribe to this program on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!