U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a bill that would institute a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in the United States. However, any product with milk, soy or other plant-based milk substitutes as the primary ingredient would be exempt, along with infant formula, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
The Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SWEET) Act would impose a tax of 1¢ per teaspoon of caloric sweetener, using revenue collected to fund federal anti-obesity programs. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Read the full text of the bill here.
In other legislative and regulatory action impacting dairy:
• The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) convened for its fourth meeting in July to discuss nutritional research that can serve as the basis for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Overall, dairy garnered a good deal of attention, both positive and negative, according to IDFA.
The DGAC is focusing on overall dietary patterns, looking at the whole array of foods and beverages people consume and the health outcomes associated with these dietary patterns. The committee’s final report is expected before the end of this year, with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to be released by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services by the end of 2015.
The inclusion of dairy in healthy eating patterns, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, was mentioned as a positive for dairy. The importance of dairy foods for children was also called out.
However, full-fat dairy was identified as associated with the development of some health conditions. At times, committee members seemed to question the importance of dairy; one asked whether there is evidence that the low consumption of dairy products actually poses a threat to public health.
Some questioned the number of servings of dairy that Americans need for a healthy diet, saying not all healthy eating patterns that include dairy call for the currently recommended three daily servings. Lactose intolerance also was raised again as a concern by a committee member.
The DGAC’s draft list of nutrients of concern due to underconsumption by Americans is the same as the final list in the 2010 DGAC report: potassium, fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Of these, potassium, calcium and vitamin D are all supplied by dairy products. Saturated fat and sodium were identified as nutrients of concern due to overconsumption by Americans.
The slides presented by each subcommittee are now available, along with a significant amount of other materials, on the Dietary Guidelines website, www.dietaryguidelines.gov. The next meeting of the DGAC will be held Sept. 16-17, and will be available for viewing via webinar.
• A bipartisan group of 17 U.S. senators, led by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), expressed concern about a potential administration agreement with Mexico that would increase sugar prices in the United States. In a letter to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, the senators spoke against the agreement, saying it could threaten the viability of American food manufacturers and raise food prices for American families.
The Coalition for Sugar Reform, of which IDFA is a member, applauded the senators’ call to avoid new restraints on Mexican sugar in answer to the petitions filed earlier this year by U.S. sugar producers.