Dietary Guidelines

What’s the Background?

Under the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990, the secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) every five years must issue the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. An advisory committee of health and nutrition professionals is supposed to make recommendations for the guidelines on nutritional and dietary information based on current scientific and medical knowledge. But the advisory committee for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans used many sources from outside USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Library, which was established in part to ensure transparency in the development of the guidelines, reaching significantly different conclusions on the role of meat in the American diet than previous reports. The committee recommended removing lean meat from the profile of a healthy diet and lower consumption of red and processed meat. It also addressed the off-topic area of sustainability, indicating that a plant-based diet was more sustainable than one including animal products. The final guidelines issued in January 2016 by HHS and USDA, however, ignored the advisory committee’s recommendations on meat.

Why Does It Matter to Our Producers?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans form the basis of federal nutrition programs, nutrition standards, and nutrition education for the general public. The standards are implemented by school lunch programs, and they inform federal food purchasing. They are also often used to guide state, local and private-sector (such as hospitals and nursing homes) feeding, and food purchasing programs.

What is NPPC’s position?

NPPC supports the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It encouraged the secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to ensure that animal protein maintains its scientifically supportable place on the American table and that the guidelines not venture into unauthorized and off-topic areas such as sustainability, arguing that the advisory committee ignored key research supporting the important contributions that lean meat specifically and meat generally make to the American diet.

“The dietary guidelines, which form the basis of federal nutrition programs and are used by school lunch programs, recognize meat as a part of a healthy diet. Pork is cited as a good source of vitamin D, one of the nutrients lacking in many Americans’ diets.”
Beth Johnson, Registered Dietician, Food Directions Inc.

Additional Resources