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Government At The Table

Written by Dennis Sun

    Earlier this month, the nation’s so-called top nutrition panel released their findings in a report to the government that will be the basics for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s report was then released to the public and also sent to the secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA. 

Next, this report will be published in the Federal Register and will be open to comment for 45 days. The deadline for comments is April 8. After the comments close, HHS and USDA will review the report and public comments, rewrite what they need to and publish the final Eighth Edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which should come out in the fall of 2015. 

This advisory panel’s report was criticized by many and with good reason. As early as last December, Congress approved language that expressed “concern” that the advisory committee was “considering issues outside of the nutritional focus of the panel.” Their concerns were alluding to environmental discussions. Also in December, Congress said at that time that dietary guidelines should “only include nutrition and dietary information.”

The Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the budget for the USDA was “skeptical of the panel’s departure from utilizing sound science as the criteria for the guidelines,” and he also said, “Politically-motivated issues such as taxes on certain foods and environmental sustainability are outside their purview.” He warned that the subcommittee would “keep this in mind” as it considers funding the agencies this spring.

Red meat industry lobbyists also attacked the recommendation, asserting that the panel was stacked with health experts who know too little about the environmental science. 

Barry Carpenter, the chief executive of the North American Meat Institute, said in his statement, “The Committee’s foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope and expertise. It’s akin to having a dermatologist provide recommendations about cardiac care.”

Here is some of what the report said that has caused all the uproar. 

The report said that while Americans are eating less red meat than they have in the past, they are still eating too much, and all that meat consumption is having a detrimental effect on the environment. The report also said that Americans should pay taxes on sugary foods like sodas and snacks and make a dent in the epidemic of obesity. 

It continued that Americans are consuming too much salt, added sugars and foods rich in saturated fats. But for the first time they said that there is strong evidence that moderate consumption of coffee is not associated with long-term health risks. 

The report also reversed decades of warnings about eating foods high in cholesterol, such as eggs and liver. That will make the egg people happy – and me, too. 

The red meat remarks are troubling as today’s beef supply is leaner than ever. In the last 30 years, thanks to advancements in production, genetics and processing, beef has 34 percent less total fat and 17 percent less saturated fat. The government recognizes over 30 cuts of beef as lean under its standards.

We do need to curb obesity in our lives – but that’s a private choice. What we really need to curb is self-serving government bureaucrats intruding in our lives.