So they've debunked that story about the two Chinese characters for crisis being "danger" and "opportunity." JFK and Nixon, and others told the story but it's not true. It does roughly translate to "critical point." There's also a phrase in American idiom about, "Jumping the shark."

After spending a lot of time with the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, I'm thinking both the correct and incorrect Chinese thoughts apply, as does the American one. In leaving lean meat off the food list, and straying off nutrition so far as to make recommendations regarding environmental impacts of their dietary recommendations, the Advisory Committee has gotten so extreme, could say they jumped the shark. It will be difficult for many to ever take them seriously again.

Such extreme recommendations, therefore, present a critical point, a tipping point, if you will, for meat producers. Leaving lean meat off the recommended list is so radical that other parts of the same Advisory Committee report do not agree with it, recommending lower amounts of red meat in some places and including it in diet models in other places.

This week you need to finish filing comments on the report (deadline May 8) and then contact the Secretaries of USDA and HHS and your member of Congress and senators.

Old time cowboys knew the best way to stop a stampede was to keep turning the leaders in a circle in on themselves until they were all milling together in a big mishmash at the center. Reading the Advisory Committee's report gives one the feeling that they are just at that milling and head butting and wandering-at-the-center stage. They repeat some phrases over and over and over, like they are trying to convince themselves. Yet one can search and search and not find any evidence for their positions on red meat.

Methinks it’s all in their heads.

The good news is that unlike 2,500 stampeding Longhorns, it doesn't take a couple cowboys with more guts than sense and brave horses to turn this stampede. The time is right to stand on common sense, point to contradictory science and make our voices heard. We may never have a better chance than this Advisory Committee has given us to begin turning the herd mentality.

After all to little media fanfare – and no let up from cholesterol-free ads – the Advisory Committee dropped a longstanding recommendation that Americans obsess over dietary cholesterol. Three bombshell paragraphs in the New York Times, quoting a Committee member and a former American Heart Association committee chairman, noted that the recommendation was gone, that decades of research had proven dietary cholesterol doesn't affect serum cholesterol, that the recommendation survived for years even though the data didn't support it and, by the way, most peoples' bodies handled variations in cholesterol consumption so well that there was no need for population-wide blanket restrictions.

That was a cataclysmic admission that apparently, only those of us hammered by its undeserved power for 50 years could truly appreciate.

Now the attention has shifted to saturated fat. Animal products contain both saturated and unsaturated fat.

"The changed landscape in obesity and dietary patterns suggests a need to reassess the dominant diet-heart paradigm...," noted an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "A recent pooled analysis of 11 American and European cohort studies (344,696 persons) found no association between decreased risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD) and replacement of saturated fat with carbohydrates; indeed the approach was associated with a slightly increased risk. Similarly, a meta-analysis of 21 cohort studies (347,747 persons) found no significant association between intake of saturated fat compared with carbohydrates and risk of IHD, stroke and total cardiovascular events," ("Are Refined Carbohydrates Worse Than Saturated Fat?" 4/21 and 06/2010).

More recently, a dietary study shed light on the lack of association noted above, finding that increasing dietary saturated fat did not increase saturated fat in the blood.

The finding "challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn't correlate with disease," Jeff Volek said. He is senior author and professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.*

Contrary to this research line, guess how paranoid this Dietary Goals Advisory Committee was about saturated fat? With the current U.S. diet featuring saturated fat at 7.9 percent of total calories, they directed their modelers to construct a diet model with saturated fat cut to just six percent of total calories. Far from acknowledging that their strictures on animal products and boosting of carbohydrates had failed its goals and created new problems, they wanted to know what doubling down yet again would look like.

The model researchers determined they could only meet the goal by eliminating all solid fat and replacing some of it with oils. All of the foods used in the model are already in their lowest fat forms, like one percent milk or 85-89 percent ground beef. But to meet a six percent target, nothing with any solid fat would be allowed. That would mean no 1 or 2 percent milk, no low-fat yogurt, no 85-89 percent ground beef, no hard-boiled eggs, no broiled beef steak (lean and fat), no part-skim mozzarella cheese or roast chicken with skin. To quote the report, "...most choices in the Dairy and Protein Foods groups....would not be allowed in any amount...choices would be quite limited."

Allowed would be yummies like fat-free milk, fat-free yogurt, 95 percent ground beef, only the lean of a broiled steak, roast chicken without skin and egg white. At that, the beef options seem luxurious, compared to white water milk and egg white. Heaven knows what beef cut they would allow (round steak?) and how would one make a 95 percent beef patty without non-fat hair glue or something to hold it together?

The report notes that such a diet would be "far less than the 5th percentile of intake for all age-sex groups," i.e. far less than five percent of Americans currently eat such a diet. Specifically, "It is not known how many individuals consume about 6 percent of calories from saturated fat," the report concluded.

I've got an idea. I haven't seen it for myself, but I've heard about television shows featuring zombies. Count them. Maybe it's them.

*"Study: Doubling Saturated Fat in the Diet Does Not Increase Saturated Fat in Blood," 11/21/14,; Technical peer-reviewed article, "Effects of Step-Wise Increases in Dietary Carbohydrate on Circulating Saturated Fatty Acids and Palmitoleic Acid in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome," PLOS, 11/21/14.

Sec. Vilsack's e-mail:; switchboard phone: 1-202-720-2791.

HHS Sec. Sylvia Burwell:; switchboard phone: 1-877-696-6775.

House representatives contact index:

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Click here to see instructions and file comments on the Advisory Committee report. There are specific instructions and time limits, so allow time to prepare properly. You may want to comment several times, keeping each comment concise and keying each comment to specific sections of the Report.