In mid-December, the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), held its final meeting on the dietary guidelines and closed the public comment period.

The guidelines make some significant changes, such as reducing added sugar to no more than 10 percent of daily calories and urging the consumption of more fruits and vegetables and much less meat. The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) calls the removal of lean meat from a healthy diet arbitrary and capricious.

“The committee’s removal of nutrient-dense lean meat from a healthy dietary pattern is stunning,” says NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter.  He adds the advisory committee possessed plenty of scientific evidence supporting red and processed meat as part of a healthy dietary pattern.

A recent analysis published in the Associated Press says more changes could be coming including recommendations to reduce sodium intake and limiting caffeine use in pregnant women.

HHS and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have jointly published the guidelines every five years since 1980.

HHS says the committee’s report will be submitted to the Secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture early this year. After its submission, a Federal Register notice will be published announcing the availability of the report, a public comment period and the date of a public meeting for providing comments to the Federal Government on the report.

 According to HHS, though comments are closed, they will remain viewable and searchable. The public comments database will reopen to accept public comments to the Federal Government on the committee’s report when the Federal Register is published announcing this public comment period.