ASN Health and Nutrition Policy Newsletter
|American Society for Nutrition Newsletter
Senate Fails to Move Bill to Repeal and Replace Affordable Care Act
Senate leaders have tried for a week to push forward some type of legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. After voting on three different measures and dozens of amendments, it came down to a final vote of 49-51 that defeated a stripped-down version of a repeal bill. Among the few provisions, the bill would have dropped the mandates for individuals and for most employers to purchase health insurance and rescinded $1 billion in funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund run through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In short, all versions of the bills would have resulted in millions fewer Americans insured over a decade, increased health care expenses for states, and disruption in the insurance markets.
Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined all of the Democrats and two independents in voting against the bill. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressed his disappointment in the defeat and announced the Senate would move on to other priority issues. Rumors linger that President Trump will try administratively to alter the Affordable Care Act by ceasing cost-sharing payments to states for health expenses and letting insurance exchanges collapse. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Tom Price noted he will continue loosening, where possible, the regulations that implement and stabilize the Affordable Care Act.
Genetic Engineered Salmon Labeling Bill
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reintroduced the
Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act
to protect her state's salmon fishing industry from AquaAdvantage Salmon. The bill would require that genetically engineered (GE) salmon be labeled and requires the Secretary of HHS to obtain a third-party independent scientific review of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s environmental assessment for GE finfish.
Bill Introduced To Boost Nutrition Education in Schools
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) again introduced
a bill to promote 50-hours of nutrition education
each year in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Cartwright argued that "obesity and associated health problems take a toll on the nation's economy. Childhood obesity alone costs an estimated $14 billion annually in direct health expenses."
Reducing Senior Malnourishment, Social Isolation, and Health Care Costs
The Senate's Special Committee on Aging recently held a hearing on
"Nourishing our Golden Years: How Proper and Adequate Nutrition Promotes Healthy Aging and Positive Outcomes."
The committee heard testimony from experts including ASN member Connie Bales, PhD, RD, professor and associate director of the Center for the Study of Aging at Duke University School of Medicine. Speakers stressed the importance of reimbursement for nutrition services provided by registered dietitians to offset health care costs that result without these services and the need for community engagement and programs.
Requirements for Fiscal Year 2018 Funding
Here is a brief reminder of the sequence of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funding. Ideally, the House and Senate will approve a budget that provides instructions to respective committees to make changes in authorizing legislation to achieve reductions in mandatory programs. Meanwhile, the Appropriation Committees will approve bills that govern the fiscal year funding for the discretionary programs that have been previously authorized for specific departments or agencies. Unless both the Senate and House have passed appropriations bill for specific departments by September 30th, these two chambers will pass a continuing resolution that often continues current spending levels for departments and agencies for a specified period of time until appropriations bills for the fiscal year are passed.
Budget Committee Adopts a FY 18 Budget
The House Budget Committee approved a FY 2018 Budget that would make significant reductions to several programs designed to lift low income individuals out of poverty, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The bill calls for approximately a $10 billion cut in programs under the control of the House Agriculture Committee over 10 years with some suggestions that those cuts be taken from SNAP by giving states more flexibility and tightening the work requirements. However, the House Agriculture Committee notes that any changes in agriculture and nutrition programs will be made through the normal Farm Bill process and that it will respond only if the House Budget makes it through the Senate and conference. Senators express desire to maintain funding for agriculture programs at the current level. As for health spending in the House Budget, the bill assumes changes in health care that include reductions in Medicare and Medicaid but underscore the importance of support for research and development of medical breakthroughs from research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and CDC. The House will begin August recess without voting on a budget.
Full House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2018 Funding for Labor, Health, Human Resources, and Education
The figures for NIH and other DHHS programs reported in the mid-July ASN Policy brief remained the same in the bill approved by the full committee on July 19, 2017. This Committee
was issued at that time.
Agency Senate Bill President FY 2018 House Appropriations
Bill FY 2018
USDA NIFA Res 854,871m 769,600m 830,400m
USDA AFRI 375m 349m 375m
USDA ARS 1,182m 805m 1,133m
USDA ERS 87m 77m 77m
FDA 2,760m 1,819m 2,759m
SNAP 73,612m 73,612m 73,609m-(with $3
WIC 6,350m 6,150m 6,150m
Child Nutrition 24,297m 24,256m 24,281m
Below is a summary of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations
regarding several agencies.
USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Human Nutrition Research
- The Committee recommendation includes no less than the fiscal year 2017 level to expand research regarding the growth, health promotion, diet, immune function, and disease prevention of the developing child.
USDA ARS Nutrient Density Profile
- The ARS is directed to update the nutrient profile and nutrient density characterization of pure maple syrup.
USDA ARS Nutrition Research and Aging
- More research is needed to address the needs of all Americans, with a particular focus on the elderly, the fastest growing segment of the population. Therefore, the Agricultural Research Service is encouraged to prioritize human nutrition research to explore the relationship between nutrition, physical activity, and healthy and active aging.
USDA Economic Research Service (ERS)
- As in the House Appropriation Bill, the Senate Committee requests within 12 months an updated study from the ERS on the economic benefits of breastfeeding, including its potential cost-savings for Medicaid and the WIC program.
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Childhood Obesity
- The Committee encourages USDA to support innovative efforts to address the unique challenges faced in addressing obesity among children and youth in urban, minority low-income populations through a combination of family education and clinical studies.
Protein Functionality-The Committee encourages USDA to support research projects that characterize protein from crop plants such as chickpeas, sorghum, lentils, fava beans, lupin, rice, oats, mushrooms, and water lentils to assess their suitability for use in food products. The Committee is particularly interested in research projects involving plants that can be easily cultivated in the U.S. and that are sustainably grown and produced (in terms of factors such as water usage or fertilizer and pesticide requirements).
The report language includes relevant directives that:
Recommend an increase of $500,000 to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and $500,000 to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to review Botanical Drug and Dietary Supplement interactions.
Directs the FDA to report to the Committee on its efforts to implement regulations and provide clarity to the maple syrup and honey industries on the labeling of the sugar content of their packaged products and avoid consumer confusion with using "added-sugar" information on label.
Encourages the FDA to issue final guidance regarding the definition of dietary fiber and provide sufficient time for food manufacturers to comply.
Directs the FDA to provide a report on its efforts to implement regulations to help assure a safe and stable human milk supply and prevent contaminated milk from reaching vulnerable infants.
Directs the FDA to review its final seafood advice for nursing and pregnant women and to make corrections to ensure the advice is consistent with the FDA's scientific review of the net effects of seafood consumption.
Urges the FDA to provide clarity to food manufacturers on the labeling of carbohydrates that may have insignificant or no caloric content.
- The Committee encourages the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to work with states to fund projects that collaborate with local farmers, farmer's markets and community based childhood obesity programs in carrying out SNAP nutrition education programs. These nutrition education projects should include fitness and behavioral health.
The Committee encouraged FNS to put priority on the health and cultural benefits of fish consumption and increase the amount included in the WIC food packages as regulations are revised to implement the January 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) recommendations.
-The Committee continues to extend the whole grain waiver provision to those school food authorities demonstrating a hardship in implementing the standards. Schools will not be required to meet the Target 2 levels for sodium but only Target 1. Schools will have flexibility in serving low-fat flavored milk.
Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act
The Energy and Commerce Committee marked up the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017
, authored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). This bill would alter the current menu labeling law to allow only online disclosure of nutrition information and/or other forms of disclosure that work best for businesses. The bill also included an amendment to delay the menu labeling rule until the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure rules were finalized by the FDA. HR 772 passed Full Committee, as amended by a vote of 39-14.
Clovis Nominated for USDA REE Undersecretary
The White House nominated Sam Clovis, PhD, MBA, a professor of economics at Morningside College, for the position of Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist. Clovis most recently served as the Senior White House Advisor to USDA and previously as chief policy advisor and national co-chair of the Trump-Pence campaign. Much of his career has been spent in the Air Force. His lack of credentials in the sciences and his record of denying climate change have concerned many. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and others have pointed to the 2008 Farm Bill that created the position with a stipulation that all nominees to the chief scientist role at the USDA be a scientist. The statute reads "the Under Secretary shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics."
The White House also put forth the name of Steve Censky, current CEO of the American Soybean Association, to fill the role of Deputy Agriculture Secretary. Censky brings significant understanding of trade and farm production, and has supported the importance of nutrition and nutrition research in the past. As the Administrator of FNS, and also as Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Food Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS), Brandon Lipps brings experience as staff on the House Agriculture Committee and recently was the Chief of Staff and Director of Federal Affairs in the Office of Chancellor Robert Duncan for the Texas Tech University System. Additional new staff also include Maggie Lyons who will serve as Chief of Staff and senior advisor to the FNCS Under Secretary and Kailee Tkacz will serve as the FNCS policy advisor. Lyons and Tkacz have worked at the National Grocers Association.
FDA Completes Review of Qualified Health Claim Petition for Macadamia Nuts and the Risk of Coronary
After conducting a systematic review of the available scientific data, the FDA expects to exercise enforcement discretion over the use of a
qualified health claim
characterizing the relationship between consumption of macadamia nuts and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The claim, which manufacturers can use immediately, reads: "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat [and calorie] content."
USDA Seeks Comment on Regulatory Reform
The USDA is asking for public feedback on how it can improve its "customer service and remove unintended barriers" as part of a larger effort to identify and revise regulations that are harming rural America. In a Federal Register
, USDA calls for comments on regulations that need to be repealed or changed and why, duplicative rules, and the total costs to farms and businesses. The department will accept comments for the next year. The list notes that the
Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements
is in final rule stage.
ERS Releases Report on FY 2016 Accomplishments
provides specific accomplishments across the ERS program from the agricultural economy, global markets and trade, nutrition and food safety, resources and environment, and the rural economy. In addition, there's an overview of how ERS adds value to the numbers through an integrated program of statistics, outlook, and research.
CSPI Chooses New President
Dr. Peter G. Lurie will be the new executive director and president
of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), succeeding Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., who co-founded the nonprofit nutrition and food-safety watchdog organization in 1971. Lurie was most recently the Associate Commissioner for Public Health Strategy and Analysis at FDA, where he held several other leadership posts, after being Deputy Director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group from 2000 to 2009.
Industry Groups Sue New York City to Stop Implementing Menu Labeling
The restaurant industry, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Association of Convenience Stores joined forces to sue New York City after the announcement that it would begin enforcing the menu labeling requirements starting August 21st, despite the extension of enforcement date until 2018. The industry groups argue that FDA has preemption.
National Academies Releases Obesity Workshop Proceedings
NASEM has released the proceedings of the workshop titled, "
The Challenge of Treating Obesity and Overweight
." The workshop reviewed a number of considerations in the treatment of obesity including: life cycle, professional training, payment, and policy.
Guiding Principles for Developing Dietary Reference Intakes Based on Chronic Disease- Report Release Webinar
On August 3,
the National Academies will host a webinar on the report
, The Development of Guiding Principles for the Inclusion of Chronic Disease Endpoints in Future Dietary Reference Intakes.
An ad hoc committee of the National Academies assessed options presented in the document Options for Consideration of Chronic Disease Endpoints for Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Summary Report from a Joint US/Canadian-sponsored Expert Panel (hereafter Options Report) and determined guiding principles for the inclusion of chronic disease endpoints for food substances that will be used by future National Academies committees in establishing Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).
National Academies Obesity Roundtable Workshop
FNS Announces Intensive Course for WIC Staff
The 2017 National Maternal and Infant Nutrition Intensive Course provided by the University of Minnesota focuses on the improvement of maternal and infant health through the delivery of risk-appropriate, high-quality nutrition services. It is designed for dietitians, nutritionists, certified nurse midwives, registered nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians, and public health professionals who serve infants, children, preconceptual, pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women. It will be held
, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Society of Behavioral Medicine Seeks Submissions for Annual Meeting
The Society of Behavioral Medicine is seeking abstract submissions for its 2018 Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions. The
deadline is September 12. There are more than 30 topic areas that can be considered.
AMCHP Call for Proposals for 2018 Annual Conference
The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs has released a call for proposals for their 2018 Annual Conference. There are multiple tracks offered for
. Proposals are due September 1.
Opportunity for Health Impact Assessments Grants
The Health Impact Project will award grants of up to $100,000 to organizations in select counties in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. The grants will support the design and completion of a health impact assessment (HIA). See full eligibility and selection criteria for
online grant applications
. The application deadline is
USDA to Award Mini Grants for WIC Special Project
The USDA FDNS is providing funds for WIC state agencies to, "develop, implement, and evaluate new or innovative methods of service to meet the changing needs of WIC participants." Applications are due September 1 and awards range from $50,000 to $500,000. There will also be a webinar for those with potential interest.
CAC Adopts Universal Standards for Peppers, Cumin, and Thyme
Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)
has established universal standards for black, white, and green pepper, cumin, and thyme. The adoption is expected to help trading of these spices in India. By officially standardizing these spices, many concerns surrounding legitimacy of the spices in global trade can be eliminated.
Lithuania Caps Trans Fats in Foods
Lithuania has drafted legislation that creates a
ceiling on the amount of industrially-produced trans fats
permitted in foods. The maximum level is 2 grams of trans fats per 100 grams of total fat content. The Lithuanian Ministry of Health hopes this move will combat the growing rates of cardiovascular disease and related deaths. Naturally occurring trans fats are exempt from this cap.
UAE to Ban Supplements that Pose Public Health Risks
United Arab Emirates is working
to ban health supplements
that pose health risks to consumers. Many of these supplements are marketed under the guise of being herbal supplements, yet possess many components that can cause life-threatening drops in blood pressure. This move to ban the supplements came after warnings from the FDA about the risks the drugs presented.
European Food Safety Authority Sets Safe Levels of Intake for MSG and Glutamate Additives
The European Food Safety Authority(
EFSA) set an acceptable daily intake
(ADI) for MSG and other glutamate additives of 30 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. The level was set using research on toxicity in animals from these additives. The EU has never had an ADI for glutamate additives, but instead imposed a maximum amount permitted in foods. EFSA is urging a change in the maximum amount as many Europeans are consuming too much of these additives daily.
Syria Farm Production and Food Security Improve
The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program recently estimated that the overall
farm production in Syria
has increased since conflict began. However, these increases still bring Syria to only half of its agricultural production pre-conflict. Furthermore, rates of food insecurity had decreased yet remain higher than pre-conflict levels as well.