Lawmakers urge USDA, HHS to use 'sound science' for Dietary Guidelines

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, March 31, 2015 - Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and 70 House colleagues are urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to make sure the final Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are based on sound nutritional science and stick within the bounds of the charter authorized by Congress.

In a letter to the two Cabinet officials, the lawmakers said they are responding to the report produced by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that Vilsack and Burwell will refer to when writing the final guidelines. They said the report “exceeds the scope of its charge by straying from purely nutritional evidence and venturing into areas like sustainability and tax policy.”

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Additionally, they note that many outside groups, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Cattlemen's Beef Association, are concerned the DGAC subjectively hand-picked data to support pre-determined conclusions when making dietary recommendations for the report.

“The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee greatly overstepped its bounds in this report,” Hartzler said in a news release. “The notion that the recommendations in this report were made based on selected data and excluded valuable nutritional information is appalling. As someone who taught nutritional science for 11 years, I am disturbed by the suggestion that a quality source of protein like red meat shouldn't be a part of a healthy diet. Flagrant claims like that are cause for concern and call into question the validity of this report, not to mention the threat they pose to the integrity of the dietary guidelines as a whole.”

Hartzler said she the lawmakers want assurance that reports like the DGAC's, which can affect the lives of all Americans, are based on sound science and don't reflect the “pre-determined policy positions of the individual DGAC members.”

“I urge and hope the agencies charged with finalizing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will stay within the confines of their charter and base the final recommendations on the most current, irrefutable nutritional science.”

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Groups that support this letter include: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producer's Council, National Restaurant Association, Livestock Marketing Association, North American Meat Institute, and American Beverage Association.

A copy of the letter with all 71 signatories can be found here.

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