Healthy Vision for 2020

Janaury 10/Prepared Foods -- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced its Healthy People 2020 objectives, which set a number of 10-year goals designed to improve America’s public health. The goals encompass a wide range of topics, including food safety and nutrition, and come in the form of specific numerical targets:

* School Nutrition Programs. The Healthy People 2020 goals call for increasing access to healthy foods at the school level:
• Increase by 10 the number of states with nutrition standards for foods and beverages given to children in child care (from 24 to 34 states)
• A 12 percentage point increase in the percentage of schools that offer nutritious foods and beverages outside of school meals (increase from 9.3% to 21.3%)
• A 12 percentage point increase in the percentage of school districts that require schools to make fruits and vegetables available whenever food is offered or sold (increase from 6.6% to 18.6%)

* Food Retail. HHS wants 10 more states to develop policies encouraging food retail outlets to sell foods that are promoted by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This would be an increase from eight to 18 states. The goals also call for increasing the proportion of Americans with access to food retail outlets selling foods encouraged by the Dietary Guidelines, but this goal is still in development and HHS has not set specific targets.

* Diet Composition. The goals call for changing the composition of Americans’ diets by increasing or decreasing the amounts of various foods and nutrients consumed:
• Fruits: Increase from 0.5 to 0.9 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories
• All vegetables: Increase from 0.8 to 1.1 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories
• Dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, and legumes, specifically: Increase from 0.1 to 0.3 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories
• Whole grains: Increase from 0.3 to 0.6oz. equivalents per 1,000 calories
• Solid fats: Reduce from 18.9% to 16.7% of daily calorie intake
• Added sugars: Reduce from 15.7% to 10.8% of daily calorie intake
• Solid fats and added sugars, combined: Reduce from 34.6% to 29.8% of daily calorie intake
• Saturated fat: Reduce from 11.3% to 9.5% of daily calorie intake
• Sodium: Reduce from 3,641mg to 2,300mg per day
• Calcium: Increase from 1,118mg to 1,300mg per day

* Iron Deficiency. HHS aims to reduce instances of iron deficiency for several groups:
• Children 1-2 years old: Reduce from 15.9% to 14.3%
• Children 3-4 years old: Reduce from 5.3% to 4.3%
• Females 12-49 years old: Reduce from 10.4% to 9.4%
• Pregnant females: Reduce from 16.1% to 14.5%

Food Safety
* Foodborne Pathogens. HHS has set several percentage-reduction goals (with a corresponding number of cases per 100,000 people) for instances of infection caused by foodborne pathogens:
• Campylobacter: 33% reduction (from 12.7 to 8.5 cases per 100,000 people per year)
• E coli O157:H7: 50% reduction (from 1.2 to 0.6 cases)
• Listeria monocytogenes: 25% reduction (from 0.3 to 0.2 cases1)
• Salmonella: 25% reduction (from 15.2 to 11.4 cases )
• Postdiarrheal hemolyticuremic syndrome: 50% reduction (from 1.8 to 0.9 cases)
• Vibrio: 25% reduction (from 0.3 to 0.2 cases)
• Yersinia: 25% reduction (from 0.4 to 0.3)

* Outbreak-associated Infections. HHS wants to reduce by 10% the number of outbreak-associated infections caused by E. coli O157, Campylobacter, Listeria, or Salmonella in several food commodity groups:
• Beef (from 200 to 180 cases per year2)
• Dairy (from 786 to 707 cases)
• Fruits and nuts (from 311 to 280 cases)
• Leafy vegetables (from 205 to 185 cases)
• Poultry (from 258 to 232 cases)

* Allergic Reactions. HHS wants to reduce the percentage of adults with a food allergy who suffer a severe allergic reaction from 29.3% to 21.0% per year.

* Foodservice and Retail Practices. HHS aims to improve food safety practices in foodservice and retail establishments, but this goal is still being developed and HHS has not set specific targets.

* Consumer-Level Practices. At the consumer level, HHS wants to increase the percentage of people following various food safety practices, including:
• Cooking food to the proper temperature: Increase from 37% to 50% of consumers
• Refrigerating food promptly: Increase from 88.1% to 91.1% of consumers

The Healthy People 2020 report does not specify what, if any, regulatory steps might be taken to achieve these goals. However, in the past, the regulatory agencies have used these types of long-term goals in helping to focus their resources.

1 Several of the cases-per-100,000-people figures do not precisely match the percent-reduction targets, presumably because of rounding.
2 These figures reflect the total number of cases, not cases per 100,000 people.

Steven Steinborn, Hogan & Hartson LLP, represents food and dietary supplement companies on a range of product development, marketing and regulatory compliance and enforcement issues involving the FDA, the USDA, the FTC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission;

From the January 10, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition