Dietary Guidelines evoke varied reactions

Agricultural organizations were pleased with the recently released “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.” North American Meat Institute president Barry Carpenter says that USDA and HHS “took great care in reviewing the science as well as comments on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report to develop a common sense policy document that all Americans can use to help them make healthy food choices.” Carpenter also says, “Meat and poultry products are among the most nutrient-dense foods available. They are rich sources of complete protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins, and many peer reviewed studies show the contributions they make to healthy diets and the potential deficiencies that can occur when people exclude animal proteins.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says, the guidelines “reaffirm the role of lean beef in a healthy diet and confirm that Americans are, on average, consuming lean meat in daily amounts that are consistent with the recommendations for protein foods. Since the first Dietary Guidelines were released in 1980, external fat on beef has decreased 81% and 65% of the most popular beef cuts sold at retail are lean, a prime example of beef producers responding to consumers’ nutritional preferences.”

Consumer and environmental groups had mixed reactions to the recommendations. Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says, “The advice presented in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is sound, sensible and science-based. If Americans ate according to that advice, it would be a huge win for the public’s health. That said, the federal government’s basic nutrition advice has remained largely unchanged for the past 35 years. The problem is that the food industry has continued to pressure and tempt us to eat a diet of burgers, pizzas, burritos, cookies, doughnuts, sodas, shakes and other foods loaded with white flour, red and processed meat, salt, saturated fat and added sugars, and not enough vegetables, fruit and whole grains.”

The CSPI was pleased with the recommendations on reduced sodium consumption but disappointed that it did not include eating fewer eggs. Moms Across America says, “It is unacceptable that the USDA does not include avoiding GMOs or toxic pesticides in their guidelines. Americans can do better than these guidelines by eating an organic, whole, local and plant-based diet. GMOs are in 85% of processed food and the worlds’ most widely used herbicide, glyphosate, found in Roundup, is on 160 of our food and feed crops.”

The Environmental Working Group says the Guidelines failed to recommend Americans eat less meat. EWG says, “The new 2015 Dietary Guidelines should have clearly called on consumers to eat less meat – both to protect their health and to reduce the harm that meat production does to the environment. Producing meat is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and growing the feed for livestock is a leading cause of farm runoff that pollutes our drinking water.” 

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