U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) joined a group of 27 other senators in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell pressing the secretaries to stay within statutory guidelines, consider the most relevant scientific nutrition literature, and reject the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s inconsistent conclusions and recommendations regarding the role of lean red meat in a healthy diet. The letter also requests an extension of the 45-day comment period to ensure stakeholders have enough time to review and comment on the committee’s lengthy report.
Every five years, USDA and HHS review the dietary guidelines for American food consumption. A recent advisory committee report recommends to the agencies what foods should be included in the new dietary guidelines. The nearly 600-page report leaves lean red meat out of what it considers to be a healthy diet, which greatly concerns many dietitians.
In the letter, the senators detailed that “This statement ignores the peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence that shows the role of lean red meats as part of a healthy diet. Furthermore, the statement is misleading as it suggests current American diets include too much meat. Government data shows the protein food category is the only food group being consumed within the 2010 daily recommended values.”
“Not only do we represent farmers and ranchers who raise animals to provide healthy meat products, but we also represent consumers who enjoy lean meat as an important food in their diet,” the senators added. “The inconsistencies brought forward in the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s report are significant.”
In addition to the letter, Ernst emphasized, “Rather than using a method based in sound health science, the committee opted to take a political track when determining their recommendation. The authors of the report left out lean red meat as a vital component of a healthy diet, which is very troublesome. This is in direct contrast to the countless number of dietitians and nutritionists who advocate for the consumption of lean red meat, and which would also have significant negative economic impacts on Iowa’s livestock and pork industries.”
The letter was led by U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) and was also signed by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee.), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Angus King (I-Maine), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), David Perdue (R-Georgia), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Thom Tillis (R-North Dakota).
You can read their letter here or below: