WASHINGTON — The American Bakers Association on July 21 urged the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to consider “a more balanced recommendation” for grains when the agencies publish the final 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans later this year.

The ABA’s comments come on the heels of the release of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report, which was unveiled on July 15. In the scientific report, the DGAC urged more repetitively than ever that intake of refined grains should be replaced with whole grains. The report retains the recommendation that at least half of total grains should come from whole grains, with total grains intake of 3 to 8 oz per day, based on energy intake.

 “While the report clearly outlined the nutritional benefits of whole grains, it unfortunately diminishes the undeniable, scientifically-backed nutritional importance of enriched grains in the American diet,” said Lee Sanders, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs at the ABA. “The required enrichment of folic acid in enriched/refined grains has been hailed as one of the top public health achievements of the 21st century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an important, efficient and economical way to decrease the chances for neural tube defects in infants. In our public comments to the DGAC, ABA and the Grain Chain will certainly focus on this issue.”

Despite some of the shortcomings in the report, the ABA said it was pleased that the DGAC recognized the importance of iron-fortified cereals as “essential to healthy growth and development.”

 “It is important to note the report identified whole grains as one of three foods fundamental to a healthy diet and also affirmed the value of plant-based diets, of which grains are a key component,” Ms. Sanders said. “We urge USDA and HHS to include enriched grain recommendations in the 2020 Guidelines. ABA and the Grain Chain will be providing strong, compelling, science-backed research to support the facts.”

The 835-page report was published July 15 and, subject to public comment, will form the basis of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The USDA and HHS, which are jointly responsible for the Guidelines, will accept written public comments on the report through Aug. 13.