WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 -- The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) is asking that the comment period for the scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) be extended from 45 days to 120 days.

“To provide a thorough and meaningful review and comment, which has been encouraged by the agencies, a 120-day comment period is appropriate,” said Betsy Booren, NAMI’s vice president of scientific affairs.

Booren said DGAC spent nearly two years reviewing the evidence to formulate its report, which was presented last week to the secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Those officials will review the report and stakeholder comments, and later this year issue a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Giving stakeholders just 45 days to review the 571-page report as well as the entire library of evidence the panel relied upon does not allow adequate time for thorough review and input, Booren said.

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“The agencies have encouraged a transparent collaborative process, yet a limited time for review does not allow for such a process. Such a short comment period runs the risk of appearing to exclude meaningful comment,” Booren said. “The 120-day comment period will provide the most insightful response to the DGAC report, which will be useful as the agencies develop the final policy.”

Last week, NAMI registered strong concerns about what it said were the committee’s contradictory recommendations to eat lower amounts of red and processed meat while at the same time saying in a footnote that lean meat can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.

It also objected to the Advisory Committee’s focus on sustainability, which they said is outside the committee’s charter. "Lean meat's relegation to a footnote ignores the countless studies and data that the committee reviewed for the last two years that showed unequivocally that meat and poultry are among the most nutrient dense foods available," NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter said in a statement last week. "Lean meat is a headline, not a footnote," he added.