WASHINGTON — A recent hearing held by the House Agriculture Committee on the review process for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans drew the praise of the American Bakers Association. The hearing, held Oct. 7, included U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to review the development of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The hearing comes after House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson in March expressed concern that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, tasked with making guidelines’ recommendations, went beyond its reach when making recommendations on such issues as food sustainability and tax policy.
“It is the primary responsibility of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (D.G.A.C.) to ensure that the guidance provided in its report is irrefutably science-based and can be communicated in terms easily understood and implemented by the public,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A. “It was refreshing to hear today from both Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack that the D.G.A.C. report informs, but does not dictate, the final recommendations that are still being finalized by the agencies and can be expected later this year.”
According to the A.B.A., the House Ag Committee’s questions and dialogue with Mr. Vilsack and Ms. Burwell focused on the thoughtful development of the guidelines and reiterated that a preponderance of science plays a crucial role in finalizing those key recommendations.
Questions at the hearing addressed nutrition policy, including scope, use of the Nutrition Evidence Library in the current review, sodium, added sugar, balance and translation of the recommendations into easily digestible messaging, as well as influence on other nutrition related policies.
“The federal dietary guidelines directly affect each and every American and should be based on sound, consistent, and irrefutable science,” Mr. Conaway said during the Oct. 7 hearing. “I appreciate Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Burwell for making this issue a priority, but I remain concerned that the advisory committee went far beyond its scope when advising on issues such as food sustainability and tax policy — areas in which the committee does not have expertise, evidence or charter. Consumers should be able to trust the science behind D.G.A. without fear of political or personal bias influencing each recommendation. After all, these guidelines are intended to help Americans make educated food purchasing decisions and live a healthy lifestyle.“After hearing the secretaries acknowledge concern with regard to the D.G.A.C. exceeding their scope, I believe we can work together to get back on track and instill confidence in the process. I appreciate the secretaries for working with the Agriculture Committee to achieve what I hope will be a positive outcome that accomplishes the stated goals of D.G.A. and preserves the integrity of the system.”