Public Law 101-445, Section 3, directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture to jointly issue at least every 5 years a report entitled Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The law instructs that this publication shall contain nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public, shall be based on the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge current at the time of publication, and shall be promoted by each Federal agency in carrying out any Federal food, nutrition, or health program. The 1980, 1985, and 1990 editions were issued voluntarily by HHS and USDA. In contrast, the 1995 edition will be the first of these reports mandated by statute.
The Secretaries of HHS and USDA jointly appointed the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to review the 1990 edition of the Dietary Guidelines and to determine if, on the basis of current scientific and medical knowledge, revisions were warranted. If so, the committee was to develop recommendations for revisions in a report to the Secretaries that would contain proposed text for the bulletin's fourth edition and rationale for suggested modifications to the third edition. Authority for the committee is provided by 42 U.S. Code 217a, Section 222, of the Public Health Service Act, as amended. The committee is also governed by the provision of Public Law 92-463, as amended (5 U.S. Code, Appendix 2), which sets forth standards for the formation and use of advisory committees.
The two Departments identified major resources for the review. Agency staff searched Medline and AGRICOLA databases for literature related to each guideline and supplied results to the committee. Selection criteria for this literature mainly included original research or review articles, reports of current research findings from studies conducted with human subjects, research conducted in the United States, research published in peer-reviewed journals, and comprehensive reports.
The committee served without pay under the regulations for Federal advisory committees. Its meetings, announced in the Federal Register, were open to the public and held in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The public was encouraged to provide written comments to the committee through the four executive secretaries - two from HHS and two from USDA. Oral comments were solicited during the second meeting of the committee.
The mandate to the committee is to advise the Secretaries of HHS and USDA; thus, the two Departments reserve the right to review and amend the text recommended by the committee prior to publication.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recognizes that providing complete and detailed information to interpret the Guidelines for special audiences and to help these audiences implement the guidelines is beyond the scope of this single short bulletin. The committee recommends that supplemental materials be issued by both Departments to focus on specific target groups and that these publications make every effort to be consistent with related Federal dietary guidance materials, such as the Food Guide Pyramid and the Nutrition Facts Label.