It’s something that happens every five years, affects dietary patterns across the country, but generally receives little attention until the last second is about to tick off the clock. I’m talking about the multi-year process undertaken by our federal government, namely USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are designed to provide science-based advice related to food and physical activity choices to promote good health, a healthy weight and prevent disease for Americans ages 2 and older. What’s more, these guidelines are the basis for federal nutrition policy, education, outreach and food assistance programs used throughout the nation by families, schools and health professionals.
USDAThe USDA's updated food guideline visual, released on June 2, 2011. Between now and sometime in fall 2015, USDA and HHS will publish an updated set of guidelines. The first guidelines were published in 1980 and have been updated every five years since. So why am I bringing this topic of now, nearly two years ahead of schedule? It’s simple, the process to update the guidelines has started, and it’s important for the protein industry to engage today and stay engaged throughout this process.
Here’s how it works, in late 2012 and early 2013, USDA and HHS solicited nominations for health and nutrition professionals and experts to serve on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). That committee was appointed May 31, 2013, and held its first meeting in mid-June 2013. In addition, at this time, the agencies published a request for public comment seeking input on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Earlier this week, the DGAC held its second public meeting to hear public oral comments from stakeholders. Several animal agriculture organizations were on tap for this week’s public meetings in Bethesda, Md., just outside Washington, D.C., including NCBA, the American Meat Institute and the National Milk Producers Federation.
This round of meetings was originally scheduled to be in October but was rescheduled due to the federal government shutdown. In all, more than 50 individuals participated in the meeting. A next round of meetings will be in March, but public comments are not anticipated to be heard during the March meeting. Between now and late this year or early 2015, the DGAC will review comments, available science in the USDA Nutrition Evidence Library and the USDA Nutrient Database before publishing its report to USDA and HHS, which will be the basis for the 2015 guidelines. Throughout 2015, the agencies will review the report as well as public comments and will prepare the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document. And, finally, in fall 2015, the 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is scheduled to be published.