The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group of outside experts, submitted its recommendations to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in order to inform the 2015 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Today, the Secretaries have released the advisory committee’s recommendations report online, making it available for public review and comment.  HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will consider this report, along with input from other federal agencies and comments from the public as they develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, to be released later this year.

“For decades, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been at the core of our efforts to promote the health and well-being of American families,” said Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack in a joint statement.  “Now that the advisory committee has completed its recommendations, HHS and USDA will review this advisory report, along with comments from the public—including other experts—and input from other federal agencies as we begin the process of updating the guidelines.”

“The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains,” reads the executive summary of the report.

“… the U.S. population should be encouraged and guided to consume dietary patterns that are rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains. These dietary patterns can be achieved in many ways and should be tailored to the individual’s biological and medical needs as well as socio-cultural preferences.”

The North American Meat Institute issued its response to the findings. NAMI Executive Director Barry Carpenter stated:

“We appreciate the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) recognition of the important role that lean meat can play in a healthy balanced diet, but lean meat’s relegation to a footnote ignores the countless studies and data that the Committee reviewed for the last two years that showed unequivocally that meat and poultry are among the most nutrient dense foods available.  Nutrient dense lean meat is a headline, not a footnote.

The Committee’s contradictory advice to reduce processed meats is also non-sensical, especially given data the committee reviewed about the Mediterranean diet.

Followers of the Mediterranean diet – the diet hailed by so many for its good nutrition and health outcomes – consume twice as many processed meats as included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food patterns.

Meat and poultry products are nutrient dense foods that satisfy hunger and help control weight and are an excellent source of iron, a nutrient of concern specifically highlighted by the DGAC.  Processing meat and poultry so that it can be more readily consumed – and consumed in styles and flavor profiles that people around the world savor – helps ensure that people can make these products part of their healthy balanced diet.

It is also unfortunate the Committee is generalizing about an entire category of foods.  Processed meat and poultry products are diverse and include low-fat, low- sodium, gluten-free, natural, organic, kosher, halal and regular formulations, along with countless flavors and styles.

As they develop the final policy report, we urge the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to acknowledge lean meat’s role in a healthy diet and to undertake a careful review of the information about processed meats that was reviewed by the committee. Consumers should rely on common sense and make all meat and poultry a part of their healthy balanced diets with confidence.

As NAMI has pointed out in previous comments to the committee, the Dietary Guidelines Committee’s charter tasked them with reviewing nutrition science, which is the field from which Committee members were selected.  The Committee’s foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope and expertise.  It’s akin to having a dermatologist provide recommendations about cardiac care. 

It’s notable new research released in late 2014 which looked at the issue of food sustainability in a new way.  Instead of analyzing the carbon footprint on similar equal amounts of different foods, researchers suggested that the total nutrition provided by those equal amounts must also be considered.  Ten pounds of beef or pork provide more complete nutrition when consumed than 10 pounds of rice or broccoli.

If our government believes Americans should factor sustainability into their choices, guidance should come from a panel of sustainability experts that understands the complexity of the issue and address all segments transportation, construction, energy management and all forms of agriculture.  Total sustainability analyses were not considered by the Advisory Committee, whose recommendations appear to be based on personal opinions or social agendas.” 

The full report can be read and downloaded at:

Source:, NAMI