Seven public meetings over the last two years to develop recommendations for federal agencies have been held by an expert committee that has recommended Americans eat more plant-based food, including fruits and vegetables.
“Now that the advisory committee has completed its recommendations, HHS and USDA will review this advisory report, along with comments from the public — including other experts — and input from other federal agencies as we begin the process of updating the guidelines,” said Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a joint statement.
Notably, the committee found that the consumption of fruits has remained low, but stable, for the U.S. population. Vegetable intake has declined, particularly among children and adolescents.
Soon after its recent release, the report was criticized by the meat industry for its move away from recommending lean meat dishes.
“We appreciate the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recognition of the important role that lean meat can play in a healthy balanced diet, but lean meat’s relegation to a footnote ignores the countless studies and data that the committee reviewed for the last two years that showed unequivocally that meat and poultry are among the most nutrient-dense foods available,” said North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter.
A consumer advocate, however, praised the committee for its latest recommendations.
“The committee has boldly stated that a sustainable diet, higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods, is better for both our health and the planet than the current American diet,” said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “The DGAC has always urged greater consumption of fruits and vegetables, but the recommendation to eat less red and processed meat deserves to be in the final Dietary Guidelines for Americans — and not excised at the behest of the meat industry.”