House Agriculture Appropriations Bill is Ripe with Poor Nutrition Policy, Says American Heart Association

April 19, 2016 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., April 19, 2016American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for FY2017 that was marked-up today:

“The American Heart Association is concerned with language included in this House agriculture appropriations bill that would weaken efforts to help both kids and adults build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Specifically, we are disappointed that the bill contains a number of nutrition policy riders, including a rider that attacks the school nutrition standards and another that targets menu labelling. These riders represent a significant step back for public health by:

  • Delaying the sodium standard’s Tier 2 reduction for school meals;
  • Allowing schools to apply for a waiver on individual whole grains products to meet this standard for school meals; and
  • Postponing compliance with menu labeling for one year from when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues its final menu labeling guidance.

We believe the science that supports all of the nutrition standards is sound, and consequently, the rider on school meals is completely unwarranted. Hampering these standards at this stage will only cancel the celebrated progress our nation’s schools have made over the last several years, and more importantly, put students’ health in jeopardy. In particular, the work already being done to reduce children’s daily salt intake has made important advances. The association urges Congress to not lose sight of what’s really important when it comes to these standards –putting nutritious foods with less sugar, salt and fat on students’ plates.

The association also urges Congress to move forward on menu labeling without further delay so more Americans can make informed decisions about the foods they eat. Displaying key nutritional information directly on menus helps Americans make heart-healthy choices.

In addition to these two nutrition policy riders, the association is also troubled by language in the bill that directs the FDA to wait on issuing voluntary sodium guidelines until the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) report on sodium is updated. The voluntary guidelines would make a significant difference in limiting the amount of salt consumed by the American public. So while we support an updated DRI, we are dismayed that the sole purpose for this bill language is to delay the release of these guidelines. The association asks that Congress not interfere with the guidelines that would have a positive impact on so many American lives.

These federal nutrition policies exist to help Americans, from the youngest student to the oldest consumer, maintain their health and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke – leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. We urge Congress to strike the ill-conceived provisions on school nutrition standards and menu labeling from the final legislation.”  

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Media Contact: Abbey Dively (202) 785-7905 abbey.dively@heart.org