2020: A New USDA Dietary Recommendation!

Updated: May 2, 2020

Will it be as bad as the last one?

Every five years a committee is convened at the USDA to review all of the latest scientific research and make an updated set of recommendations with regard to diet and nutrition. Ten years ago in 2010, the USDA moved from the traditional "food pyramid" to MyPlate (https://www.myplate.gov), which restructured the recommendations into five primary food groups: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Proteins, and Dairy. Five years ago, the committee put forward a recommended limit on added sugar, but oddly failed to say anything at all about red meat or processed meat, even though both have been declared carcinogens by the World Health Organizations (WHO) and processed meat specifically has been declared a Group 1 carcinogen (the most dangerous).

So while a group of scientists at the WHO concluded that processed meat was extremely dangerous, the folks on the USDA committee said nothing at all about it. Furthermore, the final guidelines list red meat alongside seafood, poultry, and other protein sources as elements of a “healthy eating pattern.” So where's the disconnect?

The initial report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee actually did recommend limitations on red meat and processed meat consumption. What happened next?

According to The Hill, "71 GOP representatives and 30 Republican senators signed letters critical of the Advisory Committee Report, specifically attacking the recommendations against eating less red meat and lowering sodium on behalf of the cattle and restaurant industries, among others. Those same politicians received more than $3 million in donations from food-related donors from 2013 to 2014 alone. Senators who signed the letter received almost half a million dollars just from the beef and cattle industries, according to campaign contribution records from OpenSecrets.com."

And then, not surprisingly, the guidelines that were ultimately released dropped the recommendation on red and processed meat. That's called effective lobbying.

Sadly, the 2020 process seems already tainted by special interests, and this time the influence will be just as much from inside the committee as from congress. Two of the committee members were nominated by the National Cattleman's Beef Association while two others were nominated by the American Beverage Association.

Stay tuned — the committee is still holding hearings and their recommendations won't be published for several more months, but I think we can rule out any recommendation that eliminates Filet Mignon.

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