Monday, June 14, 2010

2010 Dietary Guidelines

Stay tuned! The US Government, via the USDA and HHS, is working on the 2010 dietary guidelines. The new guidelines are scheduled to be published this fall. In the meantime, if you'd like to keep up with the progress click here for the website.

On the website, there is a link to the comments submitted by individuals and industry. Suspecting some of the comments would be interesting, I scrolled through the list and downloaded the comments submitted by the Corn Refiners Association (who knew such an association existed?). You might be surprised to learn the Corn Refiners Association submitted a great deal of research in support of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Much of the information they submitted was Government and association research reports which suggests HFCS is not harmful and should remain Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS). The FDA created the GRAS list in 1958 as a tool to help consumers and manufacturers determine what additives can be used in food. We could spend a very long time examining the process and the validity of the GRAS list. Here is a small peek...

The list of things on the GRAS list is frightening. One example: Propylene Gycol (PG). On the Dow Chemical webpage describing PG, they say it is "not acutely toxic" and is "essentially non-irritating to the skin." Excuse me? And this means it can be added to my food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals? Yes, quite so. If you'd like to know what else can be added to your food, here you go, but be prepared. Things removed from the GRAS list: saccharin (though Congress granted a special exception and it is still being used), cyclamates (now completely banned) and Red Dye No. 2 (also banned).

Are we supposed to feel good that our dietary guidelines include things on the GRAS list? Given all of this, I am a bit skeptical the 2010 Dietary Guidelines will be good for us.

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