ericbergThe Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture hosted a meeting for public comments in Bethesda, Md .regarding the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) report released on February 16th. This report shows the lack of knowledge in regards to animal protein in general and its unique food source for beneficial amino-acid nutrients. The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) and others hope that the committee will review these inconsistencies before releasing the "2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans” as these guidelines provide the scientific basis for the government to speak in a consistent and uniform manner.

AMSA member Eric Berg, Professor at North Dakota State University, represented AMSA at the public meeting and provided oral testimony and discussed that protein, a vital nutrient, did not receive adequate consideration by the DGAC. In particular, protein quality is increasingly becoming an important nutrition topic. Berg pointed out specifically that “foods of animal origin (including red and processed meats) are the only complete single source of all 9 indispensable amino acids.  In order to avoid deficiencies of indispensable amino acids in a plant based diet, different plant-based foods must be combined.  For example, beans, high in lysine would combine well with corn (or other whole grains) that are deficient in lysine and high in sulfur amino acids.”

“The proposed dietary recommendations skew intake toward incomplete sources of indispensable amino acids” said Berg.  Eating a whole grain bagel is considered the “healthy alternative” and for many, it counts as a meal, but whole cereal grains contain approximately 41% of the necessary indispensable amino acids.  The majority of intake throughout the day is skewed away from complete sources of amino acids and unintentionally leads to over-consumption of carbohydrate calories.

Dr. Berg and his collaborator Dr. Hans Stein (University of Illinois, Champaign) reviewed 10 swine research projects where the swine were fed a diet adequate in crude protein but deficient in indispensable amino acids.  The amino acid deficient swine had 19%more total subcutaneous fat, had 8% smaller muscle area, and an 89% increase in intramuscular triglyceride (fat).  In these swine studies, the indispensable amino acid deficiency of the plant-based diet resulted in muscle attenuation and increased adiposity indicative of human metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, and type II diabetes.

“The accumulation of intramuscular fat supports our research studying tissue-specific insulin resistance,” Berg said.  “The muscle becomes resistant to insulin and no longer accepts the blood glucose.  The adipocytes located between the muscle fibers remain insulin sensitive and blood glucose is converted to triglycerides that progressively fill the fat cells, leading to obesity and the cascade of events associated with chronic disease.”

Nutrient dense muscle foods, including red and processed meats, should be a focus (not a footnote) to countermeasure these diseases.

AMSA is the scientific and professional society for the meat industry and it is both our responsibility and opportunity to show peer-reviewed science in action and provide comments in regards to the DGAC 2015 report. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have the responsibility to review all the scientific evidence provided to them before developing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The public comment period for the report is open now until May 8, 2015.

Please visit to watch the full recording from the oral comments presented on March 24th, Eric Berg’s presentation starts around 1:32:42.

Source: AMSA