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USDA releases new dietary guidelines

posted on June 2, 2000


HISTORICALLY, DEBATE OVER FOOD HAS BEEN LARGELY CONFINED TO THE QUESTION -- IS THERE ENOUGH? IN RECENT YEARS, THE DEBATE IN INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES HAS SHIFTED TO THE ISSUE OF HOW FOOD IS GROWN AND PROCESSED. CONTROVERSY OVER NEW TECHNOLOGIES LIKE BIOENGINEERED FOODS AND IRRADIATION HAS DRIVEN MUCH OF THE DEBATE. ACCOMPANYING THOSE MATTERS ARE CONCERNS OVER FOOD SAFETY AND DIET.

THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON, THE NATIONAL NUTRITION SUMMIT, ONLY THE SECOND TO BE HELD IN MORE THAN 30 YEARS, WAS THE FORUM THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CHOSE TO MAKE SEVERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS. AMONG THEM WERE THE LAUNCH OF A STUDY ON FAD DIETS, A NEW FOOD PYRAMID, AND NUTRITION LABELING GUIDELINES FOR MEAT AND POULTRY.

THE NEW LABELS WILL PROVIDE THE SAME FAT, CALORIE, AND PROTEIN CONTENT INFORMATION ALREADY FOUND ON PROCESSED FOODS. THE DEPARTMENT CONTENDS THE NEW TAGS WILL HELP CONSUMERS MAKE HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES.

A RECENT STUDY REVEALED 55% OF AMERICANS ARE OVERWEIGHT. MANY HAVE ATTEMPTED TO SHED THOSE EXTRA POUNDS BY TRYING TO FOLLOW ONE OF SEVERAL "FAD DIETS." TO ANSWER THE THORNY QUESTION OF HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT SENSIBLY, AND KEEP IT OFF, THE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCED IT WILL BEGIN A STUDY TO SEE IF THE RADICAL DIETS ARE AS EFFECTIVE AS CLAIMED.

ALSO ROLLED OUT WAS THE FIFTH EDITION OF THE "DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS." THE NEW GUIDE RECOMMENDS AN APPROACH TO BETTER HEALTH THROUGH PHYSICAL FITNESS AND RESPONSIBLE FOOD CHOICE.

THE "A-B-C" BASED MANUAL BEGINS BY IDENTIFYING THE WAY TO DETERMINE AN OPTIMUM BODY WEIGHT AND ENCOURAGES AMERICANS TO BE MORE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE.

IT CONTINUES WITH THE NEW FOOD PYRAMID, WHICH CALLS FOR AN INCREASED INTAKE OF A VARIETY OF FRESH FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND WHOLE GRAINS. IT FURTHER ADVISES CONSUMERS TO SEEK OUT ITEMS LOWER IN SALT, SUGAR, FAT, AND CHOLESTEROL.

THE STUDY WAS NOT RELEASED WITHOUT SOME CRITICISM--SOME OF IT MORE PHYSICAL THAN OTHERS.

Unidentified female PETA supporter: "Shame on you Dan Glickman, you meat pimp!"

THE PIE, DELIVERED BY A MEMBER OF THE PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, WAS CONTRASTED BY MORE PASSIVE OBJECTIONS DELIVERED FROM THE PHYSICIANS COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE, ANOTHER GROUP THAT ALSO ADVOCATES A VEGETARIAN DIET. THE P-C-R-M CONTENDS THE NEW GUIDELINES PROMOTE AN INCREASED INTAKE OF FATTY FOODS. THEY FURTHER ACCUSE THE U-S-D-A OF BOWING TO PRESSURE FROM POWERFUL MEAT AND DAIRY LOBBIES.

CONSUMER-FRIENDLY FOOD LABELING IS BECOMING A LARGER PRIORITY WORLDWIDE. A U.N. PANEL IS NEARING COMPLETION OF GUIDELINES FOR INTERNATIONAL FOOD LABELS. SUCH LABELS WILL REQUIRE PROCESSORS TO NOT ONLY LIST FOOD INGREDIENTS BUT TO ALSO DISCLOSE THE PROPORTION OF THE INGREDIENTS IN A PRODUCT.

UNDER CURRENT STANDARDS, MAKERS OF TOMATO SAUCE LIST THE INGREDIENTS, BUT ARE NOT REQUIRED TO ACTUALLY DISCLOSE HOW MUCH OF THE SAUCE IS MADE FROM TOMATO.


Tags: agriculture food government news nutrition USDA