In this guest article, Melissa Musiker of the Grocery Manufacturers Association says that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are an opportunity for industry to find better ways to innovate, as part of a collective responsibility to improve American diets.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are unique from the previous five iterations released over the past 30 years in that they address the needs of a population that is increasingly overweight and obese and for whom improved nutrition and increased physical activity is a means of ameliorating the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
The release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans comes at a time of increased pressure on the food and beverage industry from consumer and public health advocates as well as the state, local and federal governments to make changes to the types of foods that we sell.
In March of 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed our membership and pushed our industry to “go farther, faster” in our product reformulation and renovation efforts. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reiterate the need to create a food environment that enables and empowers American consumers to build diets that align with federal dietary recommendations.
The US food and beverage industry has a long standing commitment to providing American consumers with a wholesome food supply. To this end, since 2002 the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) member companies have introduced nutritional improvements in over 20,000 products, with half of these changes occurring in the past three years. Food companies reduced calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. Trans-fat has been nearly eliminated in the packaged food supply.
Half of GMA member companies report making changes to packaging to help consumers exercise portion control. Many GMA member companies have publicly committed to further significant reductions in the sodium content of their products over the next few years.
The momentum is here and the consumer demand is clear. In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, companies that survive and thrive do so because they continue to innovate, connect with their consumers and provide the products that help meet their ever-changing needs. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are an opportunity for the food and beverage industry is to find even better ways to provide consumers with innovative products that are tasty, convenient, affordable and nutritious.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines make it clear that every stakeholder has a role to play in helping to address the current epidemic of obesity. It is our collective responsibility to help consumers take small steps toward building an overall healthier diet. This means that the food industry continues to provide consumers with a variety of products to meet their health and wellness goals.
At the same time, public health groups and the government must provide consumers with educational tools and strategies needed for success. Each small step that we make easier for the American consumer they will be empowered to take further actions to improve their lifestyles.
Melissa Musiker, RD, LD
Director, Nutrition and Health
Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)