USDA Calls for Public Comment on Revision of the Food Pyramid

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced that USDA will seek written comments and hold a public meeting to provide opportunity for public input into its comprehensive review and update of the Food Pyramid (USDA is now calling it the “Food Guidance System). The reassessment of the Food Pyramid parallels the revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans currently underway. The last meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will take place in Washington D.C. on August 10-11.

Development of the new food pyramid has been conducted in phases. In the first phase, USDA gathered information through technical research, professional and public input and consumer research to update the pyramid’s daily food intake patterns to meet the latest nutritional standards. Mary Enig, vice president of the Foundation, submitted written testimony on fatty acids and oils, particularly on trans fats.

The next and final phase includes developing an updated graphic image and educational materials that communicate in ways that consumers can more easily understand and put into practice.

The USDA published in the Federal Register a notice seeking public comments on the graphic image along with the motivational and educational messages for a new “Food Guidance System.” While USDA encourages written comments on all aspects of the proposed Food Guidance System, the Federal Register notice identifies six particular areas of interest, including the configuration of the new graphic, strategies to improve awareness and motivation for using the information, methods to assist consumers in personalizing the system, strategies to improve educational messages, interactive tools to demonstrate the messages and communication delivery channels for the messages. The Federal Register Notice can be found at http://en.groundspring.org/en/go?j=5109737&u=30390.

The Foundation encourages you to submit your own comments to the USDA on its “Food Guidance System” if you wish. All written comments must be submitted (mailed) by August 27, 2004. No electronic written comments will be accepted or considered. Written comments can be submitted to:
Food Guide Pyramid Reassessment Team,
USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion,
3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1034,
Alexandria, VA 22302.

In addition, a public meeting will be held Aug. 19, 2004, from 9:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. in the Jefferson Auditorium, USDA South Building, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC. Requests to participate in this meeting must be received by 5:00 P.M. EST on Aug. 12, 2004. Submit requests to participate to respond (at) cnpp.usda.gov . The Foundation will be testifying at this meeting. You may also testify if you desire. Typically public comments are held to 3 to 5 minutes each.

Final release of the new “Food Guidance System” and related consumer materials is scheduled for early 2005, following the release of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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