WASHINGTON – Congress wants the government to rein in the nutrition panel that called for cutting meat and sugar in diets in a draft of guidelines that upset industry groups and lawmakers.
A spending bill released Wednesday says that the secretary of agriculture must engage the National Academy of Medicine to study how to revise the panel process “to provide more transparency, eliminate bias, and include committee members with a broad range of viewpoints.”
The bill, which congressional leaders expect both chambers will vote on this week, would also forbid any money from being spent to implement this year’s revision to the guidelines, due at year’s end, unless those changes are “limited in scope to dietary and nutritional information.”
Draft guidelines released in February called for reduced sugar and red-meat consumption among Americans. It also included a controversial section on eating habits that encouraged environmental sustainability, along with public-policy proposals such as a tax on sodas.
Republican members of Congress including Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, chairman of the agricultural appropriations subcommittee, and companies including Coca-Cola Co. said they were concerned over the direction the guidelines were taking.
The federal recommendations are used to shape school lunch menus and the $6 billion a year Women, Infants and Children program, which helps more than 8 million Americans buy groceries.
Dietary recommendations that rely on a nonpartisan panel of scientists are made twice a decade.