The committee formulating federal dietary guidelines is being restricted in terms of what kinds of research it can consider, resulting in some prominent concerns being removed from consideration, the Washington Post reports.
The committee of dietary experts, overseen by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with writing dietary guidelines, a process that since 1980 has taken place every five years. These guidelines affect federal nutrition programs, including food assistance and school lunches.
The Post reports that for the first time, USDA and HHS have restricted the committee to scientific studies that have been reviewed by agency officials, and that have been published since 2000. As a result, several topics will be outside the committee’s purview, including the connection between consumption of red and processed meats and cancer; appropriate levels for sodium consumption; and the effects of increased consumption of ultra-processed foods. In addition, under a law passed by Congress in 2015, the committee is prohibited from assessing the effect of food production on the environment.
Critics accuse the Trump administration of allowing food industry interests, especially beef and dairy, to handcuff the panel. The USDA contends that limiting the research under consideration to what has been reviewed by USDA scientists will preserve the scientific integrity of the committee’s work.