House members defend healthfulness of enriched grains

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — The importance of folic acid and enriched grains should be clarified in the 2015 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, numerous members of the U.S. Congress wrote in a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The letter was signed by Representative Peter Roskam of Illinois, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and 58 members of Congress.

“The American Bakers Association applauds the hard work of Congressman Roskam and the many other members of Congress toward protecting the health of women and infants in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A. “This bi-partisan support for the role of grain foods fortified with folic acid is critical to the continued improvement of the health of women and infants.”

The A.B.A. said the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was mistaken in its February report, which grouped enriched grains in the refined grains category and urged a reduction of intake.

“Folic acid fortification of enriched grains has led to a 36% reduction of neural tube defects since 1998, a success that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the decade of 2001-10,” the A.B.A. said.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines will be finalized this fall.

“If U.S.D.A. and H.H.S. fail to recognize the importance of folic acid fortified grains, it would be a big setback for women and infants’ health, particularly in the Hispanic community where neural tube defects are much more prevalent,” said Mike Goscinski, manager of government relations and public affairs for the A.B.A.

Mr. MacKie pledged to work with the H.H.S. and the Department of Agriculture “in developing a strong, science-based dietary guidelines that communicate the vital role of both enriched and whole grains in a healthy, balanced diet.”

Other groups supporting the letter in addition to the A.B.A. included the North American Millers’ Association, the Spina Bifida Association, the March of Dimes Foundation, the Grain Foods Foundation, the Wheat Foods Council, the Independent Bakers Association, the USA Rice Federation, the National Pasta Association and the Tortilla Industry Association.
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