Nearly half of federal panelists making dietary recommendations have financial ties to food industry

The following is from The Vaccine Reaction.

About half of the members of a U.S. federal government panel that shapes dietary recommendations in the United States have significant financial ties to big agriculture, processed food companies, weight loss companies, pharmaceutical companies, and other corporate organizations a recent report reveals. An additional four committee members had “possible” financial conflicts of interest.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DAGC) is a committee of only 20 individuals, but their findings and recommendations ripple through national and international nutrition initiatives, affecting both food eaten in homes and in public spaces.

The committee is charged with reviewing nutrition science every five years and then making what are considered “gold standard” dietary recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

These guidelines influence how doctors and other health care professionals and nutritionists treat patients; how federal food aid is distributed; food and nutrition labeling; how food products are formulated, and what foods are served in institutional settings such as hospitals, schools, assisted living homes, prisons and military facilities.

The government transparency group known as U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) compiled publicly available data from the past five years about each of the 20 DGAC members and then published the report last month.

Government Transparency Organization Worried that Guidelines are “Another Sales Pitch for Big Food and Big Pharma”

“The guidelines affect the entire U.S. food system quite strongly,” stated Gary Ruskin of USRTK. “Millions of Americans’ lives are affected by this report and it’s crucial that the report tell the truth to American people, and it’s not degraded into another sales pitch for big food and big pharma.”

At least four of the 20 panelists have connections to two or more companies, including medical device company Abbott Laboratories, pharmaceutical companies Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, the National Dairy Council, and Weight Watchers International. One panel member has received almost $240,000 in grant funding from Eli Lilly.

“The last thing that a food or pharmaceutical company wants to have is a federal agency that says, ‘Don’t buy this stuff, don’t buy those products,’” Ruskin said. “That could potentially be a mortal threat to companies’ profit stream. So they are extremely attuned and sensitive to that possibility, and lobby in lots of ways to make sure that never happens.”

USDA and HHS Under Pressure to Release Financial Conflict of Interest Disclosures

The USRTK report notes that both the USDA and HHS issued conflict of interest “disclosures” for the first time this year, but only after pressure from public health advocates and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Critics call the disclosures vague and “far from comprehensive.” The disclosures only revealed compensations from the past year and “vaguely displays the conflicts without naming names.”

The USRTK report stated it is aiming to “fill in the gaps” left by the apathetic disclosures. (Continued…)

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5 thoughts on “Nearly half of federal panelists making dietary recommendations have financial ties to food industry”

  1. The WHO Nutrition Report said 55% of USA food has no nutritional value.
    In my country, New Zealand, the report said there is no nutritional data for both adults and children since, I recall, 2008.

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