Update: On Oct. 6, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced that sustainability will not be part of the 2015 guidelines that are still being drafted saying, "we do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability." This story below reflects the situation in June, when the agency was deciding if the new factors should be included or not.
The government has been working on the 2015 dietary guidelines, which are due out later this year. Earlier this year it was reported that the USDA was considering taking sustainability into consideration. It turns out the committee that advises the USDA on dietary guidelines has indeed included that in its recommendations — and not everyone is happy about it.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is made up of an independent group of 14 doctors and nutrition scientists, according to The Washington Post. The group is advising Americans to eat more plant-based foods and fewer animal products, in part because it's healthier for people and in part because it's healthier for the planet.
But Republicans want the planet left out of dietary guidelines. They've introduced bills both in the House and the Senate that would take the environmental impact of food production out of the dietary guideline process. One of the reasons they want sustainability taken out of consideration is because they don't think the science is strong enough to back up the claims that food production is environmentally harmful. They say there's only a moderate amount of scientific evidence available, and that guidelines based on environmental impact should only be included based on "the strongest science."
A change in the guidelines for fat
The environmental aspect of the dietary guidelines isn't the only change. Previous guidelines have recommended limiting fat, but the committee wants the guidelines to emphasize fat quality instead of total fat because not all fats are created equal. The committee also acknowledged that while Americans have turned away from fat, they've instead consumed higher levels of sugar and refined grains, causing many health issues.
The new guidelines are expected to include a recommendation on saturated fat — but not on fat in general, according to CNN.
A suggested tax on sugary drinks and snacks
Another recommendation from the advisory committee, according to The Washington Post, is that the "government consider a tax on sugary drinks and snacks." This has some food manufacturers upset. Because the recommendation is only that the government should "consider" the tax and not that it should implement the tax, there's probably little chance it will be included when the 2015 guidelines are officially released later this year.
Originally published in June 2015 and updated in October to include relevant information.