Agriculture appropriations bills unnecessarily delay food and nutrition programs, says the American Heart Association

May 25, 2018 Categories: Advocacy News

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 25, 2018 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement on Congress’ FY 2019 agriculture appropriations bills:


“It is frustrating to see that Congress’ FY2019 agriculture appropriations bills put some important food and nutrition initiatives in jeopardy, both of which are critical to improving public health.

Both bills include language that would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reopen part of the requirements that guide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailers on what foods to put on their shelves and redefine what the term “variety” means. While it may appear that they are just playing with words, this rider could potentially mean that more unhealthy foods could qualify as staple foods for SNAP participants.

Public health takes another blow in the sodium category. A rider in both the House and Senate bills prohibits the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) voluntary targets to reduce sodium for all food products until an update of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is completed. DRI is the general term for a set of reference values used by the federal government to plan and assess nutrient intakes of healthy people. The association supports an updated DRI but views this rider as nothing more than a delaying tactic. While the legislation does not permanently prevent the targets from moving forward, the association will still closely monitor this situation to ensure that there is no further damage to these targets.

Another vital nutrition initiative that could be unnecessarily delayed under the House and Senate’s agriculture appropriations bill is the FDA’s Nutrition Facts Labels. A rider included in that bill would stop the FDA from moving forward with revised versions of these labels until it’s determined if single ingredient foods like honey and maple syrup should be labeled as containing added sugars. Congress should not be legislating this process. Right now, the FDA is accepting comments on the single ingredient issue from the various stakeholders involved. Congress needs to allow that process to play out.

We urge Congress to keep the riders referenced above out of the final legislation so the excellent progress we’ve made continues to benefit the public health.”

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the Association's science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

For Media Inquiries:

Retha Sherrod: retha.sherrod@heart.org, 202-785-7929

For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org