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Meat and Dairy Dangers Concealed in Dietary Guidelines, Says Lawsuit

PCRM is suing the federal government over the newly released Dietary Guidelines. Deliberately obscure language about the consequences of eating meat and dairy products hinders America’s fight against obesity.

Deliberately obscure language regarding the consequences of eating meat and dairy products hinders America’s fight against record obesity levelsThe lawsuit, which was covered by The Washington Post, was filed against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and says that the Dietary Guidelines deliberately hide the foods Americans should eat less of.

The guidelinesare clear about what to eat more of—vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, for example—but vague about the foods Americans should eat less of. The document, which is supposed to give clear guidance to consumers making everyday food choices, uses biochemical terms, such as “saturated fat” and “cholesterol,” instead of specific food terms such as “meat” and “cheese.” This deliberate omission can be traced to the USDA’s close ties to the meat and dairy industries, including fast-food companies such as McDonald’s.

“While the guidelines do acknowledge the healthfulness of plant-based diets, they also employ confusing euphemisms like ‘solid fats’ to avoid being clear about the health risks posed by meat and dairy products,” says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “Americans need straightforward health advice, not bureaucratic mumbo jumbo designed to protect agribusiness.”

PCRM is demanding a rewrite of portions of the guidelines that use technical terms to avoid mentioning the risks of meat and dairy products. The lawsuit also raises concerns over Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee members with ties to the meat and dairy food industries, including a member who served on an advisory council for the McDonald’s Corporation and another who worked for the Dannon Institute.

As an alternative to the federal government’s confusing and misleading dietary advice, PCRM dietitians developed the Power Plate, a simple, colorful graphic depicting a plate divided into four food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. There are no confusing portion sizes and food hierarchies to follow; the Power Plate simply asks people to eat a variety of all four food groups each day.

To learn more about the Power Plate, visit ThePowerPlate.org.

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Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.
Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.


PCRM Online, March 2011

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Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
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