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Beef, dairy interests comment in meeting on dietary guidelines

Beef, dairy interests comment in meeting on dietary guidelines
Milk Producers support three servings of dairy a day recommendation; NCBA concerned with lean meat recommendation

Meat and nutrition groups on Tuesday participated in a public meeting with the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services to provide feedback on the recently released proposed nutrition guidelines.

Related: Extra 30 days tacked on to dietary guidelines comment period

At the meeting, meat groups continued their call to improve the position of lean meat in the recommendations while dairy groups supported recommendations in regards to dairy intake.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Shalene NcNeill, a registered dietitian and nutrition scientist, said Tuesday that excluding lean meat from a healthy diet ignores nutrition science and previous editions of the Dietary Guidelines.

Robert Laurenzo prepares a cut of meat for a customer in the meat department at Laurenzo's Italian Center on January 9, 2012 in North Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The recommendations don't include lean meat as part of its healthy diet plan, though lean meat is included as a footnote.

McNeill said the new recommendations were based on "outdated, weak evidence from stereotypical dietary patterns" and advising Americans to cut back on lean meat could have consequences.

"As red meat intake has declined, we are consuming more empty calories and obesity rates have steadily increased," she said. "History has shown us that sweeping recommendations often get lost in translation and exacerbate obesity and nutrient shortfalls."

McNeill said current consumption of lean meat is within the amount needed to promote good health and provide nutrients through a "satisfying form of nutrition."

"Rather than cutting back, Americans need to be encouraged to eat lean meat with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains," she said.

The National Milk Producers Federation, which provided an oral statement and written comments at Tuesday's meeting, underscored the role of dairy in Americans' diets.

The group said three servings a day of a real dairy product provides nine essential nutrients and is "extremely difficult to replace" in a diet.

“The number of servings of other foods that would be required to replace dairy’s unique total nutrient package, as well as the cost of those foods, make it unlikely that people who forgo dairy will actually obtain an equivalent nutrient intake," said NMPF Vice President of Dairy Foods and Nutrition Beth Briczinski.

Related: Groups fear meat trimmed out of nutrition guidelines

“Simply put, there is no substitute -- three servings of nutrient-dense dairy products should be an essential part of every healthful diet," she said.

In addition to supporting a recommendation of three servings of dairy per day, NMPF also said the guidelines should advise Americans to increase their current consumption of dairy, as this has fallen to fewer than two servings per day.

The recommendations will play a key role in informing the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which later is used in part to determine federal recommendations for school lunches and other nutrition policies, as well as government education and outreach regarding nutrition.

The scientific evidence used to develop the committee's recommendations will be reviewed, along with public comment before the recommendations are approved. The public comment period will be open until May 8, 2015.

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