PCRM Files Suit, Charging Bias in Federal Diet Guidelines
PCRM has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government for maintaining biased federal food policies that risk Americans' health, particularly for those groups hardest hit by chronic diseases.
On December 15, 1999, PCRM filed suit against the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charging that the advisory committee established by these departments to draft recommendations for the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans is highly biased. The Guidelines form the basis for all federal food programs. Under federal law, advisory committees are to be free of undue influences, but at least 6 of the 11 committee members have had financial ties to the meat, dairy, or egg industry.
PCRM is joined in the lawsuit by several individuals and organizations harmed by biases in federal dietary guidelines. Malcah Yehudah is a mother of six children who attend New York City schools and participate in the National School Lunch Program. Mrs. Yehudah's children follow a vegan diet, but no suitable choices are provided by the schools. Massachusetts State Senator Dianne Wilkerson, whose constituency is primarily African American, is concerned that federally subsidized nutrition programs featuring cow's milk may cause children with difficulty digesting lactose to suffer through the day with bloating and abdominal cramps. Senator Wilkerson had previously sponsored legislation directing the state departments of education and public health to review the implementation of federal nutrition programs in Massachusetts.
Section 5(b)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act provides that the "advice and recommendations of the advisory committee will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest, but will instead be the result of the advisory committee's independent judgment."
However, the committee chairperson and at least five other committee members have had links to the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, the National Dairy Council, the American Egg Board, the National Live Stock and Meat Board (now called the National Cattlemen's Beef Association), the American Meat Institute, Mead Johnson (maker of dairy-based baby formulas), the Gerber Foundation, the Nestle Company, Kraft General Foods, and the Dannon Research Institute.
PCRM is asking that the government disregard the findings of this biased committee.