Pork Promoter Appointed to Senior USDA Nutrition Post
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
February 26, 2003
At a time of enormous public concern about obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other diet-related diseases, it is sad—though not surprising—that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) would appoint a meat-industry insider, Eric Hentges, to head its Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Dr. Hentges, an animal scientist, has devoted his career not to promoting nutrition, but to promoting meat consumption, from hot dogs to pork chops. If anything, his previous employment by the National Pork Producers Council and the National Livestock and Meat Board should have disqualified him from heading a government unit that should be protecting human health through better nutrition. He has defended higher-sodium pork and fatty sausages, supported the consumption of hot dogs by children (in the context of a “balanced, varied diet”), and opposed nutrition labeling on steaks and chops.
Note: The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is USDA’s lead agency for human—not animal— nutrition policies. It helps produce “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” and the Food Guide Pyramid, as well as nutrition guidelines for low-income Americans.