- While deliberation of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines is generally contentious, it has been even more so this year as the food industry, media, philanthropists, scientists, and lawmakers join the heated discussion over what should and should not be included.
- Of particular interest to the food industry are recommendations that Americans eat more plant-based foods that might alleviate strain on the environment, which has enraged a meat industry that believes sustainability has no place in official dietary guidelines.
- The guidelines have made significant changes over the years based on science and opinion at the time which have been altered or even reversed down the line.
The guidelines once warned against heavy consumption of dietary cholesterol, of which eggs is a major source, but that has since been reversed. Others believe that while guidelines have recommended consumers avoid whole milk due to potential heart health complications, recent research shows that whole milk may actually play a role in decreasing consumers' risk for heart disease.
Fat and salt are two other contentious points for the dietary guidelines' decision-makers in light of recent research, and food companies and industry groups are waiting with high anticipation of what the guidelines will say this year — and how the guidelines might affect companies' sales.
The science behind the dietary guidelines recommendations recently came under fire at a Congressional hearing where representatives complained that "the credibility of the national advice has been eroded by shifts in science," The Washington Post reported.
In response, the Nutrition Coalition, a group of academics and other scientists, is also pushing for stronger science used in determining the guidelines. However, controversy surrounds this group as well, as the coalition and its organizer Nina Teicholz have billionaire financial backers, what could be seen as further politicizing an already tense issue.
"They portray the science as being settled … that everything is certain and for sure," Teicholz told Politico. "The science is not settled on these points. Scientists are debating these topics."