U.S. Department of Agriculture, HHS To Release Revised National Dietary Guidelines
U.S. Department of Agriculture and HHS officials who have been revising national dietary guidelines on Wednesday are expected to lower the number of daily recommended grain products -- from seven to 12 servings to five to 10 servings -- a move that could "promp[t FDA] to weigh labeling rules for whole-grain content, the Wall Street Journal reports (Schaefer Munoz, Wall Street Journal, 1/12).
A 13-member advisory panel in August submitted its dietary guideline recommendations to USDA and HHS, calling for increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish and milk. The report helps set the guidelines for school lunch programs and other federal nutrition programs and will assist USDA in its efforts to overhaul the food pyramid, which was created in 1992 (California Healthline, 12/20/04).
Government experts are expected to recommend that three servings of grain daily consist of whole-grain products, rather than refined grain. Several food manufacturers, in anticipation of the changes, have "put whole-grain offerings on a fast track," despite a lack of FDA rules for labeling whole-grain content, the Journal reports.
The trend concerns some experts who "worry marketers will use the phrase 'whole-grain' to hype products of dubious nutritional value," the Journal reports. FDA is evaluating a request from General Mills that products be labeled a "good source" of whole grain if they contain eight grams of whole grain and an "excellent source" of whole-grain if they contain 16 grams of whole-grain (Wall Street Journal, 1/12).
Officials also are expected to "place more emphasis" on foods' calorie content and recommend that U.S. residents exercise daily.
Margo Wootan, nutritional policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said, "It has been a big problem in the past that, basically, the federal government has published a booklet and then crossed their fingers and hoped that Americans ate better. That's clearly not been enough. What we need is significant investment in programs and changes in policy and the food environment that help Americans to eat better and watch their weight" (Quaid, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/12).