The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage Americans to eat a healthy diet and focus on foods and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health and prevent disease. The first edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released in 1980 and is now reviewed, updated and published every 5 years in a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee began with the 1985 edition of the guidelines. HHS and USDA appointed a committee of nationally recognized experts in the fields of nutrition and health to review the new scientific and medical knowledge current at the time. Based on their review of the literature, the Committee prepares a report for the Secretaries with their recommendation for the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines. The Committee hosted the third public meeting for the 2015 guidelines last week. NCBA submitted multiple sets of comments to ensure the DGAC is aware of the recent advances and science-based data supporting the role of beef in a healthful diet.

Along with the nutritional information, NCBA provided the scientific analysis of the sustainable beef practices producers utilize today. Ensuring a sustainable food supply is undoubtedly one of the greatest societal challenges and has been a concern voiced by the Committee. While it is an ongoing and continual process, the cattle industry has made a long-term commitment and evidence-based advances in sustainability.

The Beef Checkoff-funded Beef Industry Sustainability Assessment serves as a guidepost for continuous improvement across the full beef value chain and was certified by NSF International, lending credible, third-party verification to the study. The results of the life cycle assessment highlight the industry’s significant achievements over time and help identify areas for future progress and innovation. Beef’s overall sustainability has improved five percent in six years and the overall environmental and social footprint of the beef industry has been reduced by seven percent in this time.

More specifically, between 2005 and 2011, the beef industry reduced: emissions to soil by seven percent; greenhouse gas emissions by two percent; acidification potential emissions by three percent; emissions to water by 10 percent; water use by three percent; land use by four percent; energy use by two percent; resource consumption by two percent; and occupational illnesses and accidents by 32 percent.

Increased efficiency is undoubtedly the greatest contributor to increased sustainability and it will continue to be the beef value chain’s best opportunity for future progress. The industry has demonstrated a commitment to continually improving how beef is produced and is constantly searching for new and better methods to lower its environmental footprint while improving its social and economic contributions to communities across the country.