- The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have announced that they would not consider sustainability as a factor as they create their set of dietary guidelines (DGAs) later this year.
- This comes as a relief to meat companies, which were opposed to the use of sustainability for DGAs after the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released a report that suggested consuming less red and processed meats could be beneficial for the health of both people and the environment.
- "Issues of the environment and sustainability are critically important," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a joint statement that appeared on each agency’s blog. "But because this is a matter of scope, we do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability."
The meat industry was vocal about its opposition to the use of sustainability for DGA consideration. "The [Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's] foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope and expertise. It’s akin to having a dermatologist provide recommendations about cardiac care," Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of North American Meat Institute, said in a statement in February responding to the committee’s introduction of sustainability.
Other players in the food industry felt differently about the recommendation of sustainability for DGA and the agencies' recent decision. "While disappointing, I can appreciate that the agencies did not want the issue to distract from the very important nutrition advice to eat less red and processed meat and more plant foods," Michele Simon, a food industry lawyer who runs the consulting firm Eat Drink Politics, told Quartz on the behalf of a coalition of more than 20-plant based food companies that were in support of the report’s recommendations.