U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today led 29 of his colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell calling on the secretaries to stay within statutory guidelines, consider the most relevant nutrition scientific literature, and reject the committee’s inconsistent conclusions and recommendations regarding the role of lean red meat in a healthy diet. The letter also requests an extension of the 45-day comment period to ensure stakeholders have enough time to review and comment on the lengthy report.
Every five years, USDA and HHS review the dietary guidelines for American food consumption. A recent advisory committee report recommends to the agencies what foods should be included in the new dietary guidelines. The nearly 600-page report leaves lean red meat out of what it considers to be a healthy diet, which greatly concerns dietitians who support consumption of lean red meat and is alarming to the livestock, pork, and poultry industries.
The senators write in their letter, “We are concerned about this committee’s suggestion to decrease consumption of red and processed meats … this statement ignores the peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence that shows the role of lean red meats as part of a healthy diet … we have strong concerns with the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee going beyond its purview of nutrition and health research to include topics such as sustainability … We encourage you to carefully consider the most relevant nutrition scientific literature and reject the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s inconsistent conclusions regarding the role of meat in Americans’ diets as you finalize the Dietary Guidelines.”
Joining Thune in his letter are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Angus King (I-Maine), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ken.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
The full text of the senators’ letter is available here:
March 12, 2015
The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20201
The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack,
We are concerned with the scientific integrity of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendation to remove “lean meat” from the statement of a healthy dietary pattern, and we seek an extension of the 45-day comment period for stakeholders to comment on the “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.”
We are concerned about this committee’s suggestion to decrease consumption of red and processed meats. The report suggests that dietary patterns with positive health benefits are described as high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts and moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products. Dietary patterns with positive health benefits are also described as lower in red and processed meat.
Unfortunately, this statement ignores the peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence that shows the role of lean red meats as part of a healthy diet. Furthermore, the statement is misleading as it suggests current American diets include too much meat. Government data shows the protein food category is the only food group being consumed within the 2010 daily recommended values. It is misleading for the report to suggest eating less meat when lean meat is not being overconsumed based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommendations.
Additionally, we have strong concerns with the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee going beyond its purview of nutrition and health research to include topics such as sustainability. The 14-member advisory committee does not have the background or expertise required to make these suggestions in this report. We strongly encourage you to stay within the statutory authority of your respective departments when finalizing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.
Not only do we represent farmers and ranchers who raise animals to provide healthy meat products, but we also represent consumers who enjoy lean meat as an important food in their diet. The inconsistencies brought forward in the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s report are significant. We encourage you to carefully consider the most relevant nutrition scientific literature and reject the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s inconsistent conclusions regarding the role of meat in Americans’ diets as you finalize the Dietary Guidelines.
We request that you grant an extension of the comment period beyond the allotted 45 days, which expires on April 8, 2015. It is important to allow enough time for interested stakeholders to carefully review the 571-page report.Sincerely,