Meat group reacts to removal of lean meat from healthy diet pattern

Meat group reacts to removal of lean meat from healthy diet pattern

Posted Jan. 5, 2015

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) raised strong objections last week to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) removal of lean meat from a healthy dietary pattern.

“The committee’s removal of nutrient-dense lean meat from a healthy dietary pattern is stunning,” said NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “The change was made behind closed doors during a lunch break at the final December 15 meeting. Actions made in haste behind closed doors are not rooted in science and do not make good public policy.”

In comments submitted Dec. 30, NAMI called the action “arbitrary and capricious” and said it “suggests that the DGAC fails to recognize the nutritional value lean meat offers and is ignoring the scientific evidence supporting its inclusion in the American diet.” The institute provided extensive references showing the important nutritional contributions that lean meat and poultry make to the diet.

“Based on the Dec. 15 meeting, NAMI questions the scientific rigor of the DGAC decision, especially after nearly 24 months of reviewing the scientific evidence,” NAMI said. “If the DGAC believed lean meat was not part of common characteristics of a healthy pattern, why was it included in the draft evidence conclusion through the morning of Dec. 15?”

The institute said it supports nutritional guidance that encourages the consumption of nutrient dense foods, which includes meat and poultry, and moves away from consumption of energy dense foods. In addition, the Institute said dietary guidance should be practical, affordable, attainable and positive and should encourage Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet while respecting cultural forces, food preferences, budgets, availability and habits.

“Meat and poultry are an integral part of the American diet and the DGAC’s failure to recognize the role of lean meat as a component of a healthy eating pattern is concerning and ill considered,” NAMI concluded. “It also reflects either an astonishing lack of awareness of the scientific evidence or a callous disregard of that evidence, again calling into question the entirety of the recommendations submitted by the DGAC to the agencies. We encourage the agencies to include lean meat and poultry as a component of a healthy eating pattern.”

After the Dec. 15 meeting, interested parties were given until Dec. 30 to comment, even though the committee stated at that meeting it had already approved the recommendations posted after the lunch break as final. Those final recommendations are expected to be published in the Federal Register in the next 30 days, after which interested parties will again have 45 days to comment.

NAMI also sent its comments to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Matthews Burwell. Ultimately, it will be these two agencies that decide whether or not to implement the DGAC recommendations as presented. Those decisions are expected to come in the fourth quarter of 2015.