Vol. 10, No. 1  August 1998

Feds to Revise Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Since 1980, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have published the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a consumer guide to a healthy diet. The Guidelines include advice on alcoholic beverages. The departments update the Guidelines every five years to incorporate the latest scientific findings on nutrition and health.

Plans for the year-2000 update are already underway. The official Advisory Committee was appointed in early August and will begin meeting in late September. We invite you to join us over the next two years to provide the Committee and the two departments with informa- tion that will assure Americans the best possible advice from their government about drinking.

BoozeNews readers may recall the controversy concerning the 1995 Guidelines, which include a statement about a potential benefit of moderate alcohol consumption (for some individuals) and eliminated past language that discouraged any drinking.

The bottom line recommendation, however, remained virtually unchanged from the prior edition:

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, with meals, and when consumption does not put you or others at risk.

Nonetheless, the Wine Institute had a field day in the media, exaggerating the outcome as a sea change in government policy on drinking, and stimulating numerous reports that wrongly suggested a government recommendation to drink for one’s health.

Wine industry lobbyists apparently worked overtime to influence the outcome of that Dietary Guidelines debate. In July, the Washington Post reported that the Mondavi Winery paid a $120,000 penalty and agreed to other corrective actions for making improper gifts to former Agriculture Department Secretary Mike Espy in 1993 and 1994, while the winery was lobbying his department to include information on the benefits of alcohol in the Guidelines.

Please let us know if you’d like to be on a special action list for information on the Dietary Guidelines process.

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