Dietary guidelines for Americans, sans sustainability, rallies support

by Lawrence Aylward
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WASHINGTON – In the wake of the US Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) and US Dept. of Health and Human Services (USHHS) announcement that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) would not be influenced by sustainability, North American Meat Institute (NAMI) President and CEO Barry Carpenter said he was reassured that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and USHHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell “have taken a strong stance to keep the Dietary Guidelines focused on nutrition and health.”

Carpenter noted he was pleased that the guidelines will remain within the scope of the mandate created by the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (NNMRRA), which is to provide “nutritional and dietary information and guidelines…based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge,” and not include issues related to sustainability.

“As NAMI has noted in previous comments, while sustainability is an important food issue, it was outside of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scope and expertise and would be more appropriately addressed by a panel of sustainability experts that understands the complexity of the issue,” Carpenter said.

On Tuesday, Vilsack and Burwell released a statement on the USDA website addressing the fact that there was discussion this year about including the goal of sustainability as a factor in developing guidelines.

“Issues of the environment and sustainability are critically important, and they are addressed in a number of initiatives within the administration,” Vilsack and Burwell said in a joint statement. “USDA, for instance, invests billions of dollars each year across all 50 states in sustainable food production, sustainable and renewable energy, sustainable water systems, preserving and protecting our natural resources and lands, and research into sustainable practices. And we are committed to continuing this investment.”

But Vilsack and Burwell stressed that in terms of the 2015 DGAs, “we will remain within the scope of our mandate in 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act. We do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.”
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