Dietary guidelines for Americans. An ongoing food industry joke.

It was thirty years ago, but it seems like just yesterday. Despite an allergy to petrochemicals that was so bad I couldn’t tolerate reading a newspaper, on that particular Thursday I picked up Jack’s Chicago Tribune, turned to an inside section and read the announcement that the FDA was holding hearings and asking for input on nutritional labeling that would soon be appearing on food labels.

Over the weekend I worked nonstop to convince Jack he had no choice but to attend. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. He had to give testimony to the fact that monosodium glutamate used in food causes adverse reactions. And on Monday he called the FDA Chicago office requesting permission to testify.

Dr. George Schwartz flew in from Santa Fe to take part in the hearings. We had read his book, In Bad Taste: the MSG Syndrome, but had not yet met him. We also met Barbara Mullarkey, who introduced us to the horrors of vaccines as well as various toxic foods. But it was Big Food that stole the show. They were there, all of them, representatives of major food companies each pretending to suggest labeling that would benefit consumers, while actually pushing ways to hide the salt, sugar, trans fats and any of the other undesirables that permeated their products.

I hadn’t thought about those days for years. Then a press release issued by the Nutrition Coalition titled “Member(s) of USDA committee blow whistle on serious flaws in dietary guidelines process,” arrived in my inbox. The first sentence summed it up, saying: “One or more Members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Suggest Process Lacks Scientific Integrity and Rigor.” (The Dietary Guidelines are promoted by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services as “information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families.”)

Could it be? Isn’t Big Food still in charge of safeguarding the many secrets of those harmful ingredients used in food, typically well hidden from consumers? Did someone object to the fact that while the Dietary Guidelines spoke of nutritional value and healthy eating patterns, they didn’t mention avoidance of toxic food additives?

The whistle-blowing letter was dated June 2, 2020, addressed to Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The critic(s) provided details of reviews that were unreliable and scientific evidence that was excluded. “Ensuring that all the best and most current science is properly reviewed for the purposes of establishing the 2020 DGA (Dietary Guidelines for Americans) is fundamental, and any action to rely upon unreliable reviews or exclude scientific evidence must be considered flawed. The thought that many dozens, if not hundreds of scientific studies are being excluded by the DGAC (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) is unconscionable.”

Who are these people, the 20 nationally recognized experts chosen to serve on the independent 2020 DGAC? Their charge is to review scientific evidence on topics and questions identified by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services and provide a report on their findings to the Secretaries.

The DGAC chairperson and one other are at the University of California, Davis, home of one of our finest programs for food technology, serving the interests of Big Food. One is at the Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor being on record as hosting research initiated by glutamate-industry interests. One is at the University of Iowa, seat of the original industry-sponsored deceptive and misleading studies of the safety of MSG and aspartame. Possibly all belong to the Institute for Food Technologists, professional designers of chemical-laced foods.

Why would some of these people provide reviews that are unreliable and/or omit relevant studies from consideration? Do some or all of these people serve the interests of Big Food just as Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., toxicologist, respected member of the Institute for Food Technologists, and unacknowledged chairman of Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee served the glutamate industry until he was exposed for supplying placebo material containing excitotoxic aspartic acid to researchers doing industry’s double-blind studies of the safety of MSG?

The question remains unanswered. Did someone object to the fact that while the Dietary Guidelines spoke of nutritional value and healthy eating patterns, they didn’t mention avoidance of toxic food additives?

Adrienne Samuels

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