New Obama Guidelines: Lean Meat Has Role in Healthy Diet

New federal dietary guidelines, which dropped early Thursday morning, tell Americans to follow a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of vegetables, fruit, grains, fat-free dairy, oils and a variety of proteins, including lean meats.

The recommendations for what Americans should and shouldn’t be eating, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) update together every five years, created unprecedented controversy in 2015 when the federally appointed panel of nutritionists that helps draft them considered sustainability in recommending in its report that people should eat less meat to help the environment.

USDA and HHS relented to industry outrage and promised environmental sustainability would not be considered, but congressional leaders wanted to be sure, adding language to the $1.1 trillion spending bill that forces the agencies to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the guidelines and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee within 30 days.

Groups in the meat industry were relieved to see that lean meats had ultimately been left in the description of a healthy diet after the advisory committee decided to nix the food group from the description in its report to USDA and HHS last year. The agencies note in the guidelines that lean meat was also included in the description of a healthy diet in the 2010 guidelines.

“It is clear the agencies took great care in reviewing the science as well as comments on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report to develop a common sense policy document that all Americans can use to help them make healthy food choices,” Barry Carpenter, the president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said in a statement.