NCBA Urges Secretaries to Reject Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s Flawed Recommendations

Taylor HillmanCattle

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted comments today to the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture on the flawed advice in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s report.

The report serves as a set of recommendations to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA as they finalize the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, the misleading recommendations are inconsistent with decades of scientific evidence and data within the report. Along with NCBA, numerous scientific organizations and individual scientists, including several former Advisory Committee members have also raised similar concerns in their public comments.

NCBA President Philip Ellis said he hopes the Secretaries will carefully review the science and draft a final report that reinforces lean beef’s role in a healthy lifestyle.

“The Advisory Committee ignored the overwhelming body of scientific evidence that shows lean red meat plays an important role in a healthy dietary pattern and ultimately made an unsubstantiated decision to remove lean meats from a healthy dietary pattern for Americans,” said Ellis. “To date, there are nearly 20 randomized controlled trials including the BOLD study showing healthful dietary patterns with 4-5.5 ounces of lean red meat daily supports good health. The Advisory Committee ignored this evidence, and instead relied heavily on weaker forms of science, such as observational evidence.”

Dr. Shalene McNeill, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Scientist with NCBA said the report contradicts itself with qualitative messaging that states American diets should be lower in red meat, while providing quantitative data that shows lean red meat consumption is within the recommended amounts and that an increase in lean beef consumption fits into a healthy dietary pattern. Total beef consumption contributes five percent of the total calories and 10 percent or less of the total and saturated fat in American diets, yet it supplies more than five percent of eight essential nutrients including potassium, an under-consumed nutrient and iron, a lacking nutrient for adolescent females.

“The Secretaries need to step back and look at the real world application of these recommendations,” said McNeill. “Americans have already moderated their red meat servings, and science reinforces that current consumption is within amounts needed to promote good health, protecting the population from a shortfall of nutrients and providing a satisfying form of nutrition. Rather than cutting back, Americans need to be encouraged to eat lean meat more often with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.”

The charge of the Advisory Committee is to evaluate the latest nutrition research and make science-based recommendations to help mold the dietary guidelines, yet the Committee excluded sound research, made unsubstantiated recommendations and then went as far to as to venture into topics that are outside of their scope and expertise, Ellis said.

“The U.S. cattle industry welcomes an evidence-based discussion on the significant achievements of the overall environmental and social footprint of the beef industry,” said Ellis. “Our producers have a great story to tell on sustainability and beef is an ideal protein for a healthy diet, but those are separate conversations. The topic of sustainability is outside the scope of the Dietary Guidelines and we urge the Secretaries to reject any recommendations beyond health and nutrition.”