Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act (HB1193) in Florida

Florida just updated the Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Law to add another exception to the need to be a licensed nutritionist. I know some RDs who are upset about this. We have been cautioned to “share and compromise” or else we will “lose it all.”

Ummm. WTF?

Legally allowing others to be able to help people get well with nutrition is something that we should be celebrating. RDs do not own the rights to nutrition practice.

It’s not pie.

Sharing this so-very-needed work does not take anything away from the RD. There is no shortage of people who need help with nutrition.

Image of one slice of pie in pie tin.

I am one of a small contingent of RDs who welcome the inclusion of other experts into this realm. Old-school RDs cling to the idea of ONLY RDs being “the food experts” and work behind the scenes to write letters to politicians and work with lobbyists.

How’s that working out for you RDs?

I say – who cares if the law allows everyone talk and provide guidance on nutrition? RDs should welcome this friendly competition and focus on building relationships for collaboration and strengthening our marketing to showcase the things that make RDs different.

Notice the word: different. Not the word: better.

The one place that RDs level of education and internship and experience IS a necessary thing is in the hospital and medical clinics. Tube feedings, parental nutrition, kidney dialysis, healing burn victims and pressure ulcers – These things needs more than a nutrition certification. This is the medical life-and-death level of nutrition care.

I don’t think anyone is saying that a CrossFit coach should be the one calculating your parental nutrition needs. Pretty sure hospitals aren’t going to start hiring them. This will regulate itself.

So now let’s shift our focus to the new paragraph added to the Florida Statutes.

DISCLAIMER. I’m an RD, not a lawyer. This is conversational and one person’s interpretation of the law. It is NOT meant to be legal guidance and you should NOT do anything without consulting with your own lawyer or based off your own interpretation and judgment.

It says: 468.505 Exemptions; exceptions.

(1) Nothing in this part may be construed as prohibiting or restricting the practice, services, or activities of:

(n) Any person who provides information, wellness recommendations, or advice concerning nutrition, or who markets food, food materials, or dietary supplements for remuneration, if such person does not provide such services to a person under the direct care and supervision of a medical doctor for a disease or medical condition requiring nutrition intervention, not including obesity or weight loss, and does not represent himself or herself as a dietitian, licensed dietitian, registered dietitian, nutritionist, licensed nutritionist, nutrition counselor, or licensed nutrition counselor, or use any word, letter, symbol, or insignia indicating or implying that he or she is a dietitian, nutritionist, or nutrition counselor.

Let’s break this down.

This is an exemptions paragraph. That means that people described in the paragraph are free to provide services or activities without being a licensed dietitian/nutritionist by the State of Florida.

Se let’s see who can do what under this new exemption paragraph.

The first part states that this exemption is for people who give nutrition information, advice, or wellness recommendations OR for people who sell food or dietary supplements for money.

Ah but there’s a caveat. The word “if” provides some limitations.

You can do this IF the person you are giving this info or advice to is not seeing a medical doctor for a disease or medical condition that requires nutrition intervention. Oh – but we aren’t counting obesity or weight loss as a disease or condition.

So, first, let’s define nutrition intervention. Oh. Whoops. It is not defined under the statute.

Okay so, let’s think about this. I would wager that most Floridians are seeing a medical doctor for a disease or medical condition that would benefit from nutrition intervention. We have to exclude weight management so think about the big ones: pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These are diseases so if someone is seeing a doctor for these – even annually – they are under a doctor’s care and supervision.

So, I would expect to see a yes/no question asked by people who want to offer services and activities under this exemption. If someone check yes, they have a disease and they see a doctor, then the person cannot practice under this exemption. If they check no, then they are a generally healthy person who would benefit from help with nutrition. Great! Let’s get them to work with whoever they feel comfortable with to improve their nutrition!

And there’s one last part to this exemption, hang on!

Finally, if you aren’t licensed, don’t act like you are or make people think you are. This statute just claimed the title of nutritionist and nutrition counselor for the licensed professionals. If you are not licensed, you may still call yourself a nutrition coach or nutrionalist (who ever came up with that crazy word? LOL).

TLDR: you can now offer services and activities to people who are generally healthy and not under a doctor’s care as long as you are careful about how you represent yourself.

This is pretty awesome. Yes, I say this as a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian/nutritionist.

People – if you don’t have medical conditions, then please…

Go see your CrossFit coach for your macros diet…

Go see your stay-at-home mom starting her business to learn about planning healthy meals for your family,…

And go see your holistic nutrition coach to learn about an organic, clean diet.

If that’s your thing, go learn about it.

And I want to end this by pointing out when it’s a good idea to see that licensed nutritionist.

It all hinges on that medical condition/disease thing. That is important. I’ve witnessed a dietary supplement seller in a gym tell a woman that his company’s shakes are totally okay and would be great for her husband who is under-going chemotherapy. That’s a problem. Even the general “eat more veggies!” mantra can be dangerous advice to someone whose kidneys are failing. And that low-carb/keto diet that we all loved (until the pandemic – anyone have yeast and flour yet?) may put a person with diabetes on insulin into the hospital.

Most of the time, nutrition advice is harmless for the majority. But there are times when it should be given by someone who understands the intricacies of medical diseases and nutritional biochemistry and health. This, my RD friends, is where you fit in.

There is enough pie for everyone.

References:

FL FL State Statutes definitions for dietetics and nutrition practice. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0400-0499/0468/Sections/0468.503.html

FL State Statutes on exemptions and exceptions to licensed dietetics and nutrition practice http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0400-0499/0468/Sections/0468.505.html

Overview of bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/1193

Language of bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/1193/BillText/er/PDF

2 thoughts on “Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act (HB1193) in Florida

  1. Pingback: Perception Is Reality | Alexia Lewis R.D.

  2. Pingback: CrossFit & Dietitians Collide

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