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PMA taskforce advises dietary guidelines committee

Newark, Del. – Produce Marketing Association (PMA) BB #:153708 has convened a taskforce of industry stakeholders to examine and provide written comments on the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an independent, science-based group providing advice to the U.S. Federal Government on the next round of revisions to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

PMA comments, submitted on August 10, encourage federal agencies to continue work to emphasize the importance of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by recognizing a plethora of health benefits that fruits and vegetables provide. The PMA comments call on USDA and the Dept. of Health and Human Services to go beyond education campaigns and invest into effective interventions that will increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and offers suggestions to increase positive outcomes from the federal efforts.

Every five years, the U.S. government, under the leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reviews and revises the recommended Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). This work, led by a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, examines evidence of specific nutrition and public health topics to provide independent, science-based advice to the federal government in the development of each new edition.

“PMA and the members of the taskforce were pleased to see that the Advisory Committee continues to emphasize the need to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables across all age groups and socioeconomic groups,” said Dr. Max Teplitski, PMA Chief Science Officer.

“However, we are all aware that consumption of fruits and vegetables continues to decline overall in the U.S. and we believe a bold action to modify consumer behavior is needed and will require coordinated policy changes and a comprehensive system approach. Fruits and vegetables are not just a source of fiber, vitamins and a few key nutrients, they are a key ingredient in diets that – in the long run — will fend off a multitude of chronic illnesses. Most importantly, — while we should acknowledge and promote the clinical benefits of produce, we need to continue to tap into the pure enjoyment and sensory gratification of eating produce: sometimes crunchy and fragrant, sometimes sweet or sour or savory. Every spoonful of each meal should bring the Joy of Fresh!”

The “Joy of Fresh” is a theme previously used by PMA at events like South by Southwest.

PMA and the taskforce recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the important role that fruits and vegetables can play in consumer’s overall health and immunity, and therefore support the proposed efforts to instill healthy eating habits in infants and children. Habits established at a young age can be lifelong and set up future generations for healthy eating.

With this in mind, the taskforce recommends the Committee consider addressing the consumption of produce in programs like SNAP, WIC and other federal food programs like school foodservice programs to have positive impacts on the 1-8 year-old age demographic and instill healthy life-long eating habits. Similarly, the taskforce recognizes the importance of other strategies that can tangibly increase consumption, exploring all opportunities for consumers to diversify their diets and increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It is now commonly accepted that the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables go beyond being a source of some key nutrients. There is growing research that shows that microbiomes have a positive benefit at all life stages, not just in infants while they are being breastfed or fed formula. Plant-derived prebiotics and polyphenols have a known positive effect on the stability and health of gut microbiome. The comments also point to mounting evidence that suggests the DGA should incorporate metrics associated with the consumption of dietary polyphenols derived from fruits and vegetables.

“The overriding message in the comments we’re providing is that the USDA and HHS actions should be focused on actual intervention to modify American diets to reflect the guidelines,” said Cindy Jewell, president of Jewell Marketing and chair of the PMA Taskforce on addressing Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee .

“Over the years, guidelines have recommended increasing amounts of fruit and vegetable consumption at nearly every age, yet data shows that consumption is declining overall in the U.S. The efforts need to go beyond education and information and include proven strategies to help consumers establish long term healthy habits.”

In addition to Jewell as Chair, members of the task force included Brian Campos of Sun Pacific; Barbara Ruhs of Avocados from Mexico; Dr. Shreela Sharma of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and co-founder of Brighter Bites; Ted Taylor of Taylor Farms; Nichole Towell of Duda Farm Fresh Foods; Mollie Van Lieu of United Fresh Produce Association and Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak of Produce for Better Health.

Jewell will appear on PMA’s LinkedIn Live broadcast on Tuesday, August 11 at 12:30 Eastern to discuss the next round of dietary guidelines and the industry’s recommendations. The session will be hosted by Richard Owen, PMA’s team lead for legislative and regulatory affairs. To tune in, follow PMA’s LinkedIn after noon to be notified when the broadcast begins.

For PMA, which launched the “Joy of Fresh” campaign earlier this year to promote consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as florals, engagement with the federal decision-makers on dietary guidelines is a strategic effort, in line with PMA’s vision “To Grow A Healthier World”. The dietary guidelines and strategies for bringing fruits and vegetables to all consumers will be center stage in the PMA weekly Virtual Town Hall: Promoting a Healthier World on Wednesday at 12 pm noon. Registration is currently open.

About Produce Marketing Association

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption.

For more information, visit www.pma.com.