Vilsack, Burwell say dietary guidelines give tools to make healthy choices

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell say in a blog posted Tuesday on the USDA website that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (still being drafted) “will remain within the scope of our mandate in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act, which is to provide ‘nutritional and dietary information and guidelines’ … ‘based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge,’ and not include issues related to sustainability.”

Since 1980, families, nutrition and health professionals across the nation have looked to the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for science-based dietary guidelines to serve as a framework for nutritious eating.

The North American Meat Institute was quick to applaud the secretaries’ announcement. NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter says in a statement: “As NAMI has noted in previous comments, while sustainability is an important food issue, it was outside of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scope and expertise and would be more appropriately addressed by a panel of sustainability experts that understands the complexity of the issue,” Carpenter said. “It is reassuring that Secretaries Vilsack and Burwell have taken a strong stance to keep the Dietary Guidelines focused on nutrition and health.”

The blog also highlighted lean meats and other proteins as building blocks of a healthy diet, which is an encouraging sign that the agencies are applying strong scientific rigor to the dietary guidelines development process. As NAMI highlighted in its comments on the DGAC report, there is strong scientific evidence demonstrating high nutritional value of lean meat, including red and processed meats, as part of a healthy dietary pattern.

NAMI goes on to state that in fact, 17 of the 25 most popular cuts of beef and seven pork cuts meet the definition of lean by the USDA and many lean, lower in saturated fat and lower sodium processed meats can be purchased. According to a NAMI menu model analysis using the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a diverse array of processed meats, even when consumed twice daily for one week, allow consumers to stay within daily calorie and nutrient goals, while also helping individuals meet or exceed recommended nutrient intakes.

The secretaries’ entire blog can be read here.

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