The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a set of recommendations intended to guide the food and physical activity choices of Americans leading to decisions that promote good health. These recommendations are the basis for all federal nutrition education and program activities such as food assistance programs and the school lunch program. Mandated in 1990 under the National Nutritional Monitoring and Related Research Act, the Dietary Guidelines are a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The law requires a thorough review and consideration of the most current scientific and medical data. The two agencies alternate leading the effort to release a new set of recommendations every 5 years. The process for updating the Dietary Guidelines for 2015 is currently underway and is led this year by HHS.

On February 19, 2015 the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee presented the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to the Secretaries of the USDA and HHS. This report is used as the foundation for developing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans - 2015, which will be released later this year. While not the final Guideline, this advisory report is intended to provide current, scientific data related to diet, nutrition and health.

Report Concerns

There is a recommendation in the report advising Americans to limit their intake of red meat. Specifically the report states “dietary patterns with positive health benefits are described as high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products; lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains.” There is concern that the Advisory Committee has not fully considered the body of evidence pertaining to red meat, especially lean cuts, such as beef, as a nutrient rich food providing a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients. There are over 30 cuts of beef that qualify as “lean” according to the USDA nutrient database. These lean beef cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat and 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat per serving. Further the American Heart Association recommends aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat, which is about 13 grams of saturated fats a day for a 2000 calorie diet. Research supports that not all proteins are created equal, and that animal proteins are considered a source of ‘high quality protein’ based on the amount and proportion of the amino acids they contain. In addition, they are highly regarded for their iron content, a key nutrient that is often a shortfall nutrient for women, especially among adolescent girls and pregnant women.

There is also concern that the Advisory Committee has extended the scope of their directive to include topics such as sustainability. The report specifically states “The major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.” This claim, coupled with recommendations concerning lean red meat in a healthy dietary pattern, has prompted strong responses from the meat industry.

Submit Your Comments

Deadline: May 8, 2015 | 11:59 p.m. E.D.T

This report is currently available for review and the public is encouraged to provide written comments. As a result of these and other concerns, the comment period has been extended 30 days and will now end on May 8. Additionally, a public hearing was held in Bethesda, Maryland on March 24. Groups in support and opposition of the report provided testimony at this hearing.

Visit the links below to view the full report and submit your written comments:

  • Full Report | View the full Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report.
  • Public Commenting | Submit written comments on the report.