IFT Comments to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

IFT urges the Department of Health and Human Services, (DHHS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) to invite food scientists and food technologists to the discussions during the 2015 Dietary Guidelines deliberations, and brings to the attention of the Committee the American Society for Nutrition’s scientific statement on “Processed foods: Contributions to nutrition.”

June 12, 2014

Dear Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee,

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments pertinent to the development of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAC). Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. More information is available at ift.org.

IFT believes that an understanding of food science and technology and its role in addressing public health issues such as reducing food components (for example, sodium, saturated fat, trans-fat, and sugar), increasing nutrients of concern (for example, folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, and dietary fiber), eliminating acute and chronic malnutrition, reducing chronic disease, and providing safe, healthy and affordable foods for Americans is crucial for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines deliberations. Food scientists and technologists are the translational partners of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These highly educated, trained, and experienced scientists create and/or reformulate foods, develop new ingredients, and discover and design new packaging that influences healthy food choices and positively affects public health through increased provision of nutrients of concern, while maintaining a safe food supply. Including food scientists and food technologists in the dialogue would greatly enhance the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process. It is their critical insights on existing technological capabilities and limitations germane to a global food supply and its impact on food manufacturing and food safety; sensory appeal of the food; cost and time constraints; and consumer acceptance that can make significant differences in dietary recommendations, consumer behavior, and the health and wellness of the global community.

IFT would like to bring to the Committee’s attention the American Society for Nutrition’s (ASN) scientific statement titled “Processed foods: contributions to nutrition” published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The scientific statement focuses on the nutritional value of processed foods and specifically 1) discusses how processed foods contribute to the health of populations, 2) addresses the role of processed foods in providing “nutrients to encourage” and “constituents to limit,” 3) identifies the role of various stakeholders in improving the diet, and 4) reviews emerging technologies and research needed to enhance the understanding of the role of processed foods in a healthy diet (Weaver and others 2014). The scientific statement will be helpful in enhancing the Committee’s knowledge and understanding of the significant contributions of food science and technology to the food systems to provide healthy, nutritious and affordable foods.

Food processing has evolved from the need to preserve food to enhance our capacity to improve nutritional and other desirable qualities for better consumer health and wellness. Food scientists and technologists transform raw food materials and ingredients into a variety of tasty and affordable foods that provide nutritive value and are available year around. Food processing serves many purposes including to (IFT 2010):

  • enhance nutritional quality of food
  • provide an efficient nutrient delivery system
  • improve health and wellness
  • meet consumer needs for convenient, safe, healthy, nutritious, diverse, tasty and affordable foods
  • improve food safety and quality (remove potential toxic substances and anti-nutrients, prevent growth of pathogens, control spoilage microorganisms)
  • improve digestibility, bioavailability, and palatability of foods
  • increase shelf-life of foods
  • reduce post-harvest losses
  • improve transportability of foods
  • develop technologies/processes to produce foods more sustainably and reduce food waste

IFT and its members are anxious to provide expertise on food science and technology that is critical to the development of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Inviting food scientists and food technologists to the discussions would greatly enhance the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process. We are committed to assisting with the process, and we believe our technological and scientific capabilities will help the DGAC in developing evidence based recommendations that are practical and achievable. IFT appreciates the opportunity to provide comments for your consideration. Please contact Ms. Farida Mohamedshah, Director, Food Health & Nutrition, if we may provide further assistance. Ms. Mohamedshah may be reached at 202-330-4986 or via email at fmohamedshah@ift.org.

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