Al-Bev Groups Oppose Change To Moderate Drinking Definition


WASHINGTON — The federal government’s proposed changes to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans regarding moderate drinking has been met with resistance from several beverage alcohol trade groups.

Under the proposal recommended by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the 30-year Dietary Guidelines definition of moderate drinking for men would be reduced from up to two drinks per day to no more than one drink a day.

In comments submitted to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Service, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States called the proposal “seriously flawed” and “not supported by preponderance of evidence”

“DISCUS supports the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as an important source of helpful and practical information for healthcare professionals and for adult Americans who choose to consume alcohol,” stated Dr. Sam Zakhari, DISCUS chief scientific advisor, in the comments. “However, the 2020 DGAC Report reflects serious methodological and analytical flaws that undermine the scientific rigor and objectivity of its conclusions on alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality. In particular, the 2020 DGAC proposal to change the U.S. definition of moderate drinking deviates significantly and unjustifiably from long-standing, evidence-based U.S. dietary guidelines and contradicts decades of independent research findings.”

Zakhari said that the Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Report, in fact, stated, “In the absence of binge drinking, low volume alcohol consumption … has low risk for most adults,” and pointed out that among those who drank alcohol, most studies found a lower risk of all-cause mortality among men consuming within ranges up to two drinks per day compared to those who never drank or consumed higher average amounts.

Joint comments from the Beer Institute and the Brewers Association pointed to several instances where the DGAC acted outside the parameters set forth by the USDA to follow the National Academy of Sciences’ standard for scientific review. The examples included placing unwarranted reliance on out-of-scope studies, failing to meet the committee charter’s standards for transparency and providing ungraded new science as justification to change the current moderate consumption guideline for alcohol consumption.

“For three decades, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have defined moderate alcohol consumption as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. The preponderance of the evidence the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reviewed supported, at a minimum, maintaining this standard,” said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute. “Suddenly changing the moderate consumption alcohol guidelines without a sound scientific basis will only create confusion for policymakers, health care professionals and consumers.”

Also submitting comments in opposition to the proposed change were American Beverage Licensees, Wine Institute and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.

“The current recommendation in the Dietary Guidelines should be preserved based on the strength of the current body of scientific evidence supporting that recommendation,” said Bobby Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “The Advisory Committee report clearly fails to establish the preponderance of evidence needed to change this guidance, which has been in place for 30 years.”

USDA and HHS update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. The federal departments will consider the committee’s report, along with public and agency comments, as they develop the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines.