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  1. News Release

  2. May 3, 2019

Dairy Industry Tries to Block Oregon Bill Allowing Patients to Choose Healthy Plant-Based Meals

Dairy Lobby Appears to Influence Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Opposition of Bill

SALEM, Ore.—The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members—is calling out the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association’s opposition of a bill that would allow hospital patients in Oregon to choose healthy plant-based meals for medical, religious, cultural, or ethnic needs.

The doctors group is also concerned by apparent influence of the dairy lobby on the Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which submitted written testimony that was in large part identical to that of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association. Anne Goetze, R.D.N., L.D., F.A.N.D., the president-elect for the Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is currently the senior director of nutrition and business development for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. Dairy products are the No. 1 source of saturated fat in the American diet, which increases the risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other health problems.

HB 3342 A, which already passed in the Oregon House of Representatives, aims to improve the health of patients and prisoners by requiring that hospitals, long-term health care facilities, and prisons make plant-based meals available. The bill is currently stalled in the Senate Committee on Health Care following a May 1 hearing.

“Evidence-based research showing the benefits of a plant-based diet should outweigh industry interests when it comes to determining the foods made available to patients in hospitals,” says Physicians Committee dietitian Lee Crosby, R.D., L.D. “A plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, can help fight heart diseasediabeteshypertension, and cancer.”

In June 2017, the American Medical Association passed a Healthy Food Options in Hospitals resolution that calls on U.S. hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by providing plant-based meals.

The Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics writes in its letter, “Acute and long-term care is hardly the time to change long-term eating habits.” But the American College of Cardiology, which also supports plant-based options in hospitals, states that “hospitalization can be a ‘teachable moment’ for patients who are ready to embrace nutrition as part of the healing process.”

The opposition letters also question the cost of plant-based meals, but the Oregon State Legislature estimates that the bill would have no fiscal or revenue impact. In fact, St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, Calif., reports, “Vegetarian entrées cost about 50 percent less than meat entrées.” The hospital projects saving $5,000 a year by serving more meat-free meals.

Media Contact

Michael Keevican

202-527-7367

MKeevican@pcrm.org

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.

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