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Senators Roberts, Stabenow, Alexander and Murray Call for Extension of Dietary Guidelines Comment Period

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A key, bipartisan group of four senators today requested a 30-day extension of the public comment period for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) Scientific Report. Chairmen Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., joined Ranking Members Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., in sending a letter requesting the extension to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and to U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell.

In February, the DGAC sent the nearly 600-page report to the Secretaries. The report is a recommendation to the agencies as they develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be finalized later this year.

Both agencies will examine the report and public comments before jointly releasing the official 2015 Dietary Guidelines, which will provide nutrition recommendations for a variety of government programs, from school lunch programs to food allowances for U.S. military troops. The current 45-day public comment period ends on April 8. The Guidelines are reauthorized every five years. 

The following is the text of the letter sent today, March 16, 2015: 

We write to you today regarding the 2015 Scientific Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. As the Dietary Guidelines for Americans inform nutritional policy in federal programs and public recommendations for a healthy diet, it is vital that the Dietary Guidelines are based on sound science and remain independent, unbiased, and nonpolitical in nature.  

This advisory committee report included recommendations that are notably different from previous guidelines, which will require additional time to develop thoughtful feedback. 

To ensure both agencies have the benefit of hearing from the full range of stakeholders, we request a 30 day extension of the comment period, from 45 days to 75 days. The additional time would allow constituents to review the report more carefully before submitting questions and comments, as well as to provide well-crafted, constructive, and thorough comments.

An extension would be extremely beneficial to help continue the transparent process and ensure that the final report is of the utmost scientific integrity.

We thank you in advance for considering our request.

Sen. Roberts serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Sen. Stabenow serves as ranking member. Sen. Alexander serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which has jurisdiction over HHS. Sen. Murray serves as ranking member.