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  1. Blog

  2. Oct 4, 2019

Don’t Let Meat Industry Influence Dietary Guidelines

by Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD

The researcher who published a recent report in the Annals of Internal Medicine exonerating red and processed meat failed to disclose past financial ties to the meat industry.

He has previously received money from a group that works to shape industry-friendly nutrition advice and disrupt what it believes to be anti-food industry recommendations.

The news shouldn’t come as a shock. As evidence mounts that red and processed meat are dangerous for our health, industry is fighting back. But it’s not the first time that industry has tried to influence dietary recommendations.

After the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released its report stating that cholesterol is no longer “a nutrient of concern for overconsumption,” the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a lawsuit in 2016 against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services for violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which mandates that the advisory committee “will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or any special interest.”

According to documents obtained by the Physicians Committee under the Freedom of Information Act, the American Egg Board had nominated one individual placed on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. A second member was actively receiving egg-industry research grants according to industry documents, and two others worked at a university that had requested and received more than $100,000 from the American Egg Board for research aimed at challenging the cholesterol limits.

Ultimately, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans strengthened cholesterol warnings by urging Americans to “eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible” to reduce heart disease risk.

Now, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which will hold a public hearing later this month, must remain vigilant about keeping dangerous meat industry influence out of its scientific report that will shape the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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