In a statement issued today by The Sugar Association, Dr. Richard Keelor, President and Chief Executive Officer, responded to reports that pressure exerted by the food and beverage industry influenced the final federal dietary guideline on sugar. “By rejecting the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendation to limit sugar and retain the 1995 ‘moderate’ recommendation, the government simply adhered to the preponderance of science and Public Law 101,” Keelor said. “When did holding a government agency accountable to the mandate of law become undue pressure? The law was written to protect consumers from bias and maintain high standards of public health.”

Keelor continued, “Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee did not contain any recognized experts on carbohydrate nutrition, yet they felt free to ignore the results of bed rock science by some of the world’s most respected international carbohydrate scientists. The science on sugars has not changed. In fact, the recent comprehensive review ‘Carbohydrates in human nutrition,’ published in 1998 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, clears sugar of a direct link to any chronic disease including obesity. Despite these well-established facts, the Committee recommended a significant change in the sugars guideline.”

Keelor continued, “Further confirming the committee’s lack of scientific evidence, 10 internationally recognized nutrition scientists submitted a letter to Secretaries Glickman and Shalala stating, ‘There is no scientific evidence that the consumption of sugars per se has a negative effect on health other than dental caries …”‘

He continued, “In its wisdom, Congress established Public Law 101-45 which directs the Secretaries of USDA and DHHS that any changes to the Dietary Guidelines must be based on the ‘preponderance of scientific and medical evidence available at the time.’ This science-based mandate ensures that personal bias, partisan considerations and self-serving political agendas do not play a part in the process.”

Keelor continued, “In March, 30 U.S. Senators signed a letter to Secretaries Glickman and Shalala saying, ‘While we applaud and encourage continued dedication to reducing the incidence of obesity and enhancing the public’s health, we trust you will adhere to sound science as required by law. This criterion is absolutely essential to maintain integrity of the Dietary Guideline recommendations.’

“Holding government accountable for adherence to the law is a fundamental responsibility of elected officials and the cornerstone of the democratic process. The Senators did not ‘cave in.’ Instead, they stood up for the law and consumer well-being.

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“In fact, Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala seemed to agree when she said, ‘It’s extremely important-these dietary guidelines-that we stick with the science. And as science changes, our report reflects the science.’

“Was the decision by the Secretaries to retain the “moderate” guidance an example of government caving in to pressure? Or was it simply the right decision based on careful evaluation of the science? In my judgment, this is an example of the system working exactly as it was intended.” Keelor concluded.

The Sugar Association is a national trade association representing the growers and processors of sugarcane and sugar beets and the marketers of sugar in the United States.