Keep food industry influence out of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines

Keep food industry influence out of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines

Keep food industry influence out of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines

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Earlier this year, the Obama administration released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are widely promoted to the public and help guide nutrition education programs and menu planning for government institutions, including schools, prisons, military facilities and federal cafeterias.

Despite strong scientific evidence presented by its own Advisory Committee on the need for Americans to eat less meat for health and environmental reasons, the guidelines failed to provide clear guidance to the public around lowering meat consumption. With Friends of the Earth’s leadership, more than 21,000 public comments, 700 health professionals and hundreds of mayors have expressed support for the Committee’s recommendations on the importance of diets with less meat and more plant-based foods. 

In response to Congressional legislation asking the Institute of Medicine to review the process for developing the Dietary Guidelines, the USDA asked key stakeholders — including Friends of the Earth — to reflect on the process to develop the Dietary Guidelines at a listening session in Washington, D.C. on February 19, 2016.

Our consultant Rebecca Klein delivered verbal testimony last week on behalf of Friends of the Earth’s Good Food, Healthy Planet campaign.

The testimony highlighted the problem of industry interference and the need to create a more science-based approach to developing the guidelines. Friends of the Earth gave the only testimony on the importance of sustainability to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Here is an excerpt:

We commend USDA and HHS for encouraging a transparent process of scientific inquiry, including at least six publicly televised committee hearings. We therefore urge only a few changes with regard to the role of the Advisory Committee and its transparent process for reviewing, evaluating and deliberating on the latest scientific findings.

What does need to change, however, is interference by Congress and the food industry that prevented USDA and HHS from publishing dietary guidance that fully and clearly reflected the science and the unanimous recommendations of the Advisory Committee, particularly in regard to the need for Americans to consume less meat and more plant-based foods for their health and America’s long-term food security.

More transparency is needed for the public to understand why key consensus recommendations from a highly-esteemed scientific body were ignored in the final Dietary Guidelines, particularly when key science-based recommendations were supported by more than 21,000 public comments, 200,000 public petitions, 700 health professionals and hundreds of mayors.

Read more regarding our official comment here. To learn more about our work to create a sustainable and just food system, including reforms to our meat production system, visit our campaign page.

Image caption: Rebecca Klein at a Good Food, Healthy Planet rally.

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