We’ve been saying that the panel charged with making dietary recommendations for Americans went way beyond its mandate into the realm of ideology instead of nutritional science. Thankfully, members of the Obama Administration have taken notice.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell confirmed recently that many of the recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee were outside the panel’s jurisdiction. Their assessments came during a House hearing held last week on the committee’s recommendations.
In an opinion piece on Food Safety News, Editor-in-Chief Dan Flynn referred to the hearing as “a big rebuke for the advisory committee’s expansionist agenda.”
That agenda included recommendations that we shift to “diets higher in plant-based foods . . . and lower in animal-based foods,” because that is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet. The committee also decided to recommend tax policy, such as raising taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages. This is all a far cry from its priority to review the latest science on nutrition and see if it warrants changes in dietary advice.
Vilsack and Burwell shot down the recommendation on sustainability stating, “We do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.” And during the hearing they stated that tax policies do not belong in the final guidelines. Flynn wondered why the DGAC members did not opine on foreign policy along the way.
The DGAC recommendations must focus on nutrition and must be supported by sound science if they are to be included in the final Dietary Guidelines. The committee has a responsibility to make recommendations that help improve the overall health of the American population, not to propose policies that advance their personal agendas.