An open letter to Tony Bingham, CEO of ATD

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Mr. Bingham,

First off, this year’s ATD show was IMO the best I’ve been to, period.  The idea to exclude morning sessions on day one, and instead have folks go right to the expo, was a very smart move and one, I hope continues in 2019.

That said, once again, ATD dropped the ball on something that affects 30 to 60 million Americans (National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse),  up to 75 percent of African Americans and American Indians and 90 percent of Asian Americans (National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse) – Lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance though is not just a problem only in the United States, but worldwide.  On the international front, percentages vary, from 60% to as high as 75%.

According to National Health Service (UK), 90% of the population from China have some issue with lactose.

Other information based on ethnicity and Geographic Region provides additional insight into the prevalence of those folks who have some level of lactose intolerance.  The data below is from the late 90’s to early 2000’s.


Since that time, however, the numbers have only risen in some parts of the world.


Even if you do not have an intolerance to lactose, you might have a dairy allergy, which is different than lactose intolerance. A dairy allergy is when your body, specifically your immune system, sees milk and other types of dairy, as a form of an attacker. The results can be anywhere from an upset stomach to vomiting to even life-threatening.

I am someone who gets the double whammy. Due to having Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease, which in my case, results in taking hardcore medication, I cannot have dairy. When I do, I get violently ill.

Why do I bring up all this information to you?

Because ATD continues to serve dairy products at their events. If you want a coffee or tea at any ATD international expo and trade show  (at least here in the U.S.), you are stuck with low-fat milk, milk or maybe cream.  Want Almond Milk? Not possible. Soy Milk? Nope. Coconut milk? Again, not happening.

So, you bypass your morning caffeine rush. No worries, lunch is just around the corner. You can get your caffeine fix with your meal.   Or maybe you can’t.

At this year’s event, just as in past years, every sandwich that comes with some form of meat has cheese on it.  Last year or perhaps it was the year before (I admit I forget the specific year), Pizza made the rounds at lunch.  A cheese explosion. 

Every year when I do a Post-ATD international show and expo, I bring up the fact that ATD never has any non-dairy food items.  Yes, I can have a salad, but maybe I do not want one.  And there are folks who cannot have raw vegetables (everything has to be cooked), so even if they wanted a salad, it is not doable.

I’m not asking for ATD to completely remove cheese and other dairy products during your yearly show here in the United States. 

What I am asking though is that ATD recognizes that it is more than highly likely that many of their attendees suffer from either intolerance to lactose, have a dairy intolerance, dairy allergy or some combination of which due to medications and so on.

What I am seeking from you

First, to include non-dairy products at all coffee and tea stations.  Soy milk, Almond or Coconut milk will suffice (those who cannot have Soy, usually can have Almond milk – unless they have a nut allergy, then there is Coconut Milk). 

Second, to have sandwiches or other food items during lunch, that does not have cheese on them. 

Third, if you have a cookie in a boxed meal, that you have some that are either dairy-free (they make them) or something that just doesn’t have dairy.  And mark them as such on the boxes.

Fourth, during breaks where cookies and other treats make an appearance, have non-dairy ones too.

I know there will be a cost involved, but isn’t the well-being of all attendees worth it to you and ATD?

During the opening day morning session, a video presentation focused on being a worldwide association, and how everyone regardless of their location on this planet, sees the value and benefits of ATD.

The value of training and learning and development.

Well, this a learning moment.

A chance to show that ATD supports all their members.

All around the world.

A chance to say to each and every one of those who suffers from some dairy or lactose issue, we hear you.

We understand.

And we will take action.

Starting now.

Craig Weiss aka E-Learning 24/7

Attendee and Speaker at numerous ATD international shows and expos (in the U.S.) and ATD TK.







  1. Why don’t we eliminate peanuts, shellfish, latex, pollen, perfume, and uv rays. I feel bad for you and your multitude of issues but let’s not bash ATD for them. They do a great job without having to cater every persons issues. We all make accommodations.

    1. I do not think that asking for lactose free items is bashing ATD. It is about respecting those who cannot have dairy. I once went to a pub in Northern England 45 miles away from the nearest town. They had a dairy-free menu. If they can do it, a global association should too. Go to any business lounge at any airport in the world, and you will see allergy items listed, including those that have dairy in them. Many restaurants including fast food chains can remove dairy products or make substitutions. Supermarkets have dairy-free products. Society has changed. ATD should too.

  2. Hi Craig, as important as the info you give on Lactose Intolerance, is the source of the info. You do not give any source for the table or graph and the notes on the table are missing. Thank for the data anyway

    1. If you scroll down the page you will see links to sources. One is for the table. You then need to scroll down that page to see where the data came from. I decided against citing those items, since they were cites for that web page article. You can cite the page, which is acceptable under APA rules.

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