The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be published later this year as a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Dietary Guidelines, which have been reviewed and updated every five years since they were first introduced in 1980, set the foundation for the government’s nutrition policy – including school lunch programs.
To the dismay of several agriculture producer organizations and even some health professionals, current recommendations being considered for the updated 2015 Dietary Guidelines suggest a lower consumption of red meat as part of a healthy dietary pattern.
Specifically, a report created by the 14-member Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reads, “dietary patterns with positive health benefits are described as high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products; lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains.”
The 572-page report developed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was made public in late February and will be considered by HHS and USDA as they develop the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Of the recommendation for less red meat consumption, Stacy Hadrick, shown below with husband Troy, who raise beef cattle with their family near Faulkton, S.D., says she is concerned and frustrated that the committee did not heed more of the existing research that shows beef can be utilized in a healthy diet.
Hadrick, who represents South Dakota Farm Bureau on the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, points out that the American Heart Association has endorsed several lean cuts of beef included in a heart healthy diet.
Additionally, she notes that the BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study conducted by Penn State University with beef checkoff funding found that people consuming lean beef daily as part of a heart-healthy diet experienced a 10% decline in LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Concern for Kids
Recognizing that the Dietary Guidelines dictate what foods will be served for the school lunch program across the country Hadrick adds, “This [reducing red meat] concerns me as a mom. The school lunch may be the only solid meal many kids have for the day.” She notes that leaving out red meat deprives millions of kids of quality protein to satisfy hunger and provide essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and B vitamins.
And, she is concerned about obesity. Hadrick notes that Americans have moderated red meat consumption over the last five years – as was suggested in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines – but obesity rates have still continued to increase. She believes if the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend taking out lean beef, the rising obesity trend will continue.
Hadrick encourages consumers and producers to visit FactsAboutBeef.com for more information about beef nutrition.
Submit your comments by May 8
She also encourages proponents of beef to submit comments to USDA and HHS. A 45-day comment period began Feb. 19 and originally ran through April 8, but has now been extended one additional month. Submit comments at http://tinyurl.com/dgac-report-submit-comments. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s full report can be viewed online at http://tinyurl.com/dgac-report.
Hadrick suggests, “Comment as a producer or as a mom concerned about kids getting enough protein in their school lunch. People need to share their own personal stories.” She points to beefnutrition.org or beefresearch.org as resources to help provide individuals with an overview of the positive beef research information as they prepare to submit remarks for the public comment process.
She notes several ag industry organizations are also submitting comments and says, “I’m proud of the scientific evidence that supports lean beef in a healthful dietary pattern, much of that research has been supported by the beef checkoff over the years."
But in addition to those efforts, she reemphasizes, “Each of us also need to tell our story in our own words to USDA and the Department of Health. It does make a difference.”
Once the comment period closes, USDA and HHS staff will review the comments received and continue to work at the staff level and with the Secretaries to accept, modify or reject the report as written. It is expected that the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines will be finalized and published by the end of 2015.