WASHINGTON, March 12, 2015 – A cohort of mostly GOP Senators is calling on USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services to make sure lean meat is included in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In February, a panel of nutrition experts – the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) – released a report suggesting a healthy diet consisted of lower quantities of lean meat, inflaming meat and livestock groups eager to defend their products. The release of the report was part of a process that takes place every five years to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which dictate federal food policy and nutrition recommendations. Ever since, many legislators and lobbyists have been expressing their anger at the decisions of the DGAC and calling into question the scientific legitimacy of their findings.

In the letter, 30 senators encourage Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to consider the most relevant nutritional research, which the lawmakers contend will cause them to ignore the DGAC’s suggestion to decrease lean meat consumption as they write the final guidelines. They also advise the secretaries to stick within the statutory purview for the guidelines – that is to consider nutrition and health and not “sustainability” – and to expand the comment period past the customary 45 days. The period is currently set to expire April 8.

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Vilsack has said that he will work to color “inside the lines” on the language of the final report, which doesn’t bode well for the sustainability language that the DGAC is recommending. He has also said he doesn’t expect the recommendations concerning meat to be “fundamentally different” from previous editions of the Guidelines.

The letter was signed by 29 Republican and Independent Angus King from Maine.


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