Conaway says Vilsack shares responsibility for 'flawed' dietary recommendations
By Daniel Enoch
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WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 - House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and two of his subcommittee leaders wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell today expressing concerns about recommendations from a federal panel for the next set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans that Vilsack and Burwell will issue.
The letter said that the two Cabinet secretaries “share responsibility for these flawed recommendations because they failed to keep the (Dietary Guidelines Advisory) Committee focused on nutritional recommendations and away from areas such as sustainability and tax policy, which are outside the Committee's purview.”
The letter was signed by Conaway along with Nutrition Subcommittee Chairwoman Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer, R-N.C.
“At a time when consumers are already subjected to conflicting and often contradictory nutrition and health information, the dietary guidelines must provide the public with realistic, science-based recommendations,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “Given the grave concerns that have been raised, more time is needed for public comment, and those comments should be fully reviewed and considered.”
USDA and HHS jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, reflecting the latest advances in scientific knowledge. They are used to guide federal nutrition programs, including school meal standards, and to inform consumers.
Last week, Vilsack assured members of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee that he would be personally involved in writing the new guidelines and indicated he would keep them narrowly focused on nutrition.
He also said the agencies would consider extending the 45-day comment period, scheduled to end April 8, by another 60 days. The North American Meat Institute has requested a 75-day extension.
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