Where’s the beef?

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) led 29 of his colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell calling on the secretaries to stay within statutory guidelines, consider the most relevant nutrition scientific literature, and reject the 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 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 dietitians who support consumption of lean red meat and is alarming to the livestock, pork, and poultry industries.

The senators write in their letter, “We are concerned about this committee’s suggestion to decrease consumption of red and processed meats … this statement ignores the peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence that shows the role of lean red meats as part of a healthy diet … we have strong concerns with the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee going beyond its purview of nutrition and health research to include topics such as sustainability … We encourage you to carefully consider the most relevant nutrition scientific literature and reject the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s inconsistent conclusions regarding the role of meat in Americans’ diets as you finalize the Dietary Guidelines.”

Joining Thune in his letter are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Angus King (I-Maine), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ken.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

–Senator Thune