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AMI says consumers want guidance, not bans

American Meat Institute menu model details how processed meat products can play a role in balanced, healthy diets.

AMI says consumers want guidance, not bansThe American Meat Institute is appealing to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) by submitting a menu model analysis depicting how processed meat and poultry products can fit into a balanced healthy diet.

Developed by a team of nutrition experts, the menu model used the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans requirements for nutrients and food groups based on a 2,000-calorie a day diet.

The US Department of Health and Human Services and USDA jointly publish the dietary guidelines every five years. Since 1985, a committee of experts in the fields of nutrition and health has been appointed to provide oversight for the report.

The recommendations are intended for Americans over two years old and aim to provide a federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives. The guidelines encourage Americans to eat healthy and focus on foods that will maintain healthy weight, promote health and prevent disease.

AMI says its menu model incudes foods and meals commonly consumed by Americans both inside and outside the home. AMI’s model shows processed meats can be consumed twice daily for a week and still allow consumers to stay within their calorie goals and their daily goals for limiting certain nutrients, while exceeding the amount of nutrients that should be encouraged.

“If nutritional guidance is to truly impact the healthfulness of Americans, it needs to address how to improve the food choices they already make; it should not be an idealistic version of an eating pattern that bears no resemblance to the average eating patterns of Americans,” the institute says. 

AMI says polls suggesting bans on consumer food choices have historically received little support, though a 2013 poll by the University of Chicago-based NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 83 percent of respondents favored nutritional guidelines from the government. These polls support the theory that consumers like to have the information available, but prefer to make the choices themselves rather than deal with prescriptive controls.

On restricting foods, AMI pointed to commentary in Childhood Obesity Journal that argued forced eating behaviors that are not enjoyed actually increase interest in restricted foods.

“Creating specific expectations for healthy eating may reinforce the concept of good food/bad food and actually increase interest in unhealthy food,” the institute wrote. “AMI is hopeful the DGAC considers the potential unintended consequences of restricted access to foods. AMI strongly encourages the expertise of consumer behaviorists be utilized as the DGAC develops and finalizes recommendations to lead to [their] successful adoption.”

AMI urged the committee to use data based on current product formulation, which suggests many institute members are involved in reformulating products such as reducing sodium.

“Dietary guidance should be practical, affordable and attainable. Recognizing the eating patterns of the average American and providing information on how they can eat a more healthful diet within the context of their existing food choices is critical,” the Institute concluded.

The entire comments and model menu from AMI can be found here.

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