An Open Letter to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

By Trista Brown on June 15, 2015

Recently the USDA Dietary Guidelines submitted a proposal to change the fact that lean beef is included as a healthy option in your diet. Below is our response.

I’m writing to share my concerns with the report presented to you by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.  As a cattle producer I take great pride in the beef products that I produce for America’s consumers.  Today’s beef supply is leaner than ever before with more than 30 cuts of beef recognized as lean by the government’s own standards.  The protein foods group is one of the only categories currently consumed within the current dietary guidelines.  With that being said, the Advisory Committee’s report is misleading and contradictory of the government’s own data as it states American’s diets should be lower in red meat.

I appreciate the time the Advisory Committee spent reviewing other healthy diets like the Mediterranean style diet – which is higher in red meat levels than current U.S. diets – but to then remove “lean meats” from what the report states as a dietary pattern associated with positive health benefits is inconsistent.  This is also contradictory to the 2010 Advisory Committee’s report and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines which included lean meats in a healthy dietary pattern and recognized lean meats as being a nutrient dense food.  While I appreciate the footnote the Committee included to recognize the role lean meats can play in a healthy diet, the actual report should emphasize lean meats as part of a healthy diet.   Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton recently completed a study at Penn State proving a heart healthy diet including daily servings of lean beef can lower blood pressure and risks of cardiovascular disease.

Finally, I do not support the inclusion of topics outside of nutrition and health, like sustainability, being included in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.  The Advisory Committee’s formation of a subcommittee on sustainability and discussion on the topic is outside of the Committee’s scope as set by Congress and outside the committee members’ expertise.  The cattle industry has made tremendous improvements in how we raise healthy cattle to provide a safe, nutritious, affordable and abundant beef supply to the world.  However, the committee was asked by USDA and HHS to review the latest nutrition and health evidence when drafting their report to the Agencies. 

I encourage you and your staff to carefully review the comments you receive during the comment period, review the strength of the scientific evidence the Committee used for its report and ensure the 2015 Dietary Guidelines are not misleading, contradictory or confusing for Americans.  If the Guidelines are not based on the most recent, relevant and peer-reviewed literature the integrity of the entire process will continue to be in jeopardy. 

In closing, please reject these three committee recommendations:

1. To exclude “lean meats” from a healthy dietary pattern as this is inconsistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the 2015 Advisory Committee’s discussions.

2. To reduce consumption of red meats which is also inconsistent with the government’s consumption data as this is the only food category consumed within the recommended daily values.

3. To include sustainability in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines as this topic is outside the purview of the Advisory Committee and it is not appropriate for the Committee to include such a topic in their recommendation.

I hope you will carefully consider my comments as you write the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as it is in all of interest that they be based upon a strong science foundation.

Sincerely yours,

Trista Brown Priest

Chief Strategy Officer

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