The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, accusing the federal government’s newly issued dietary guidelines as being deliberately obscure regarding foods consumers should avoid.
According to a press release on the PCRM’s website, the nonprofit physicians organization cites the government’s “conflicts of interest and arbitrary and capricious behavior in developing nutrition advice that was supposed to help Americans fight record obesity levels.”
At issue is the Guidelines’ use of biochemical terms, such as “saturated fat” and “cholesterol” instead of specific food terms “meat” and “cheese,” an omission, says the PCRM, that can be traced to the USDA’s close ties to the meat and dairy industries, including fast-food companies such as McDonald’s.
PCRM is demanding a rewrite of portions of the Guidelines that use technical terms to avoid mentioning the risks of meat and dairy products. The suit also raises concerns over Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee members with ties to the meat and dairy food industries, including a member who served on an advisory council for the McDonald’s Corporation.
“While the Guidelines do acknowledge the healthfulness of plant-based diets, they also employ confusing euphemisms like ‘solid fats’ to avoid being clear about the health risks posed by meat and dairy products,” PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. said in the release. “Americans need straightforward health advice, not bureaucratic mumbo jumbo designed to protect agribusiness.”