A meat industry trade group official on Tuesday reiterated the group's concerns about proposed federal dietary guidelines and suggested the committee charged with developing the recommendations applied evidence inconsistently.
Betsy Booren, the vice president of scientific affairs at the North American Meat Institute, told a public hearing held by the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee did not base the majority of its recommendations on the USDA's Nutritional Evidence Library.
“It is incumbent on HHS and USDA to develop nutrition policy based on recommendations derived by the NEL," Booren said. "To do otherwise implies policy is being developed under a shroud of bias."
The panel's guidelines in part recommend that Americans eat less red and processed meat, a proposal that drew swift opposition from meat and poultry groups.
Booren defended those products as part of a diet that contains "nutrient dense proteins that are necessary for a healthy life." She also criticized the panel's focus on environmental factors in crafting the meat recommendations.
“It is not appropriate for the person designing a better light bulb to be telling Americans how to make a better sandwich," Booren said. "Sustainability is a complex issue best left to those with the necessary expertise.”
The panel previously defended the proposal and argued the country could manage both health initiatives and environmental goals.
The USDA and HHS will craft the final recommendations that will be issued later this year. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack indicated he doesn't believe the law allows nutritional guidelines to take sustainability into consideration.