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Vegan Advocacy Group Files Lawsuit Over New Dietary Guidelines

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They're pissed that a suggested cholesterol limit has been dropped, and say it's the egg industry's fault.

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It was just this morning that the federal government released its new dietary guidelines, and already they've spurred a lawsuit.

While the new guidelines didn't offer any groundbreaking new suggestions on how Americans should eat — in fact, they're incredibly vague and rather timid, thanks to the well-funded efforts of food industry lobbyists — there were a couple notable changes, including the exclusion of a suggested 300-milligram cholesterol limit that had appeared in previous editions. Although an upper limit is no longer given, the guidelines do still say "individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible."

Nevertheless, this has drawn the ire of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit group that advocates a low-fat, vegan diet. (According to a 2004 Newsweek story, despite its name "less than 5 percent of PCRM's members are physicians," and the group also has ties to animal rights groups such as PETA.)

Per The New York Times, "The group said that members of the dietary guidelines advisory committee had close ties to the egg industry and that they had relied too heavily on industry-funded studies." In a press release issued this morning announcing the lawsuit against the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, the PCRM says:

In February 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recommended dropping limits on dietary cholesterol, motivated by industry pressure, according to documents recovered by the Physicians Committee under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents revealed a money trail from the American Egg Board to universities where DGAC members were employed and persistent industry pressure to weaken cholesterol limits.

PCRM's court filing declares the DGAC's recommendations "part of a twenty-year attempt at a cholesterol image makeover based on research funded by USDA’s egg promotion program and designed specifically to increase egg consumption regardless of the health risks that may result from unlimited cholesterol ingestion."

Filing lawsuits against the government is hardly uncharted territory for the PCRM: In 2011 they filed a lawsuit against the USDA and DHHS for "failing to respond to a PCRM petition offering a simple, plant-based alternative" to the existing food pyramid.

Update January 8, 10:15 a.m.: The PCRM's cholesterol crusade isn't the only dietary guidelines-related lawsuit being faced by the FDA right now: Bloomberg reports on the Center for Science in the Public Interest's long-standing quest to get the organization to put an upper limit on how much salt processed foods can contain. According to co-founder Michael Jacobson, "the FDA wants to publish new salt standards, but the White House is dragging its feet for fear of a political backlash from antiregulation Republicans."

Check out the full PCRM cholesterol guidelines lawsuit, below:

Physicians Committee Vs. USDA and HHS

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