The U.S Department of Agriculture has named a nine-member board, including four scientists with financial ties to the food industry, to review the federal government's dietary guidelines.
The guidelines, which call for reduced consumption of fats, cholesterol-rich foods, sugar and salt, have been a sore point with the food industry since they were issued in February, 1980.
Earlier this year the USDA agreed to appoint a new panel of advisers to review the guidelines and recommend "appropriate" changes.
When the department first announced who was being asked to serve as advisers, some consumer groups were infuriated. They said that five of the scientists asked to serve on the panel had received consulting fees from the meat, egg, dairy and cereal industries. Their financial ties, the critics contended, raised doubts about their ability to be objective in their review.
Of the nine scientists originally tapped for the board, only one is not now listed as a member. Instead of Edward H. Ahrens of Rockefeller University, who testified for the meat industry against an earlier version of the guidelines in 1977, the USDA named Judith Stern, of the University of California at Davis.
Stern and three other members of the new panel serve as advisers to the controversial American Council on Science and Health, a non-profit, industry-supported organization whose published reports generally carry the theme that chemical and food hazards are exaggerated.