USDA Requests Comments on Dietary Guidelines for the First Time Ever

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USDA Requests Comments on Dietary Guidelines for the First Time Ever

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The USDA announced Monday that it would be inviting public comments on the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the first time since the guidelines were established in 1980. The comment period for the upcoming 2020-2025 edition of the DGA opened Wednesday and will remain open through the end of March via the Federal Register.

In its call for comments, the USDA indicates its joint goals of both managing resources more effectively and enhancing transparency for consumers.

“The American taxpayer is an essential customer — indeed, a shareholder,” says Brandon Lipps, acting deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services at the USDA. “We’re proud to be taking this important step forward toward greater transparency and ensuring that the American public’s voice is heard throughout this process.”

Topics and questions raised by the public will be prioritized based on relevance, importance, potential federal impact, and duplication, writes the USDA.

This new approach to the guidelines reflects a shifting focus, with more attention placed on what Americans eat and drink over time and less on individual food groups, reports Food Business News.

The 2014 Farm Bill mandated that this edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also be the first to provide specific guidance with regard to the dietary concerns of pregnant women and infants and toddlers through their 24th month.

The last update to the dietary guidelines, released in January 2016, did away with the 300-milligram daily limit of cholesterol present in previous versions and highlighted the importance of consuming healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids. The guidelines urged Americans to get no more than 10 percent of their calories from added sugar and reduced suggested sodium consumption to 2,300 milligrams a day. The guidelines did not, however, limit meat consumption, despite recommendations to do so from the government-appointed Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an omission experts noted at the time was likely linked to lobbying by the meat industry against such limits.

Earlier this month, the International Business Times reported that the USDA was “plagued with conflicts” as it developed the new guidelines due to the presence of former lobbyists within the department; Kailee Tkacz, a former lobbyist with the Corn Refiners Association and Maggie Lyons, a former lobbyist for the National Grocers Association, were both appointed to the USDA in July, the outlet notes.

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