Every 5 years, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA) publish a report containing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public. This month, the 2015-2020 edition was released.

The guidelines are designed for professionals to help people of all ages consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. They are also used to develop federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs. For those in the food industry, the guidelines can have an effect on safety practices, influence restaurants to change menus, and impact the culinary world through regulations and policies that affect the overall marketplace.

Things to know from the new dietary guidelines:

  • Previous versions of the guidelines focused on individual dietary components such as food groups and nutrients. This version offers more flexibility as it focuses on eating patterns and their food and nutrient characteristics.
  • Nutritional needs should be met primarily from food, and all forms of food can be included in healthy eating patterns.
  • For most people, achieving a healthy eating pattern will require changes in food and beverage choices.
  • Health professionals, communities, businesses and industries, organizations, governments, and other segments of society must work together to support people in making dietary and physical activity choices that align with the guidelines. Everyone has a role, and these efforts have the potential to meaningfully improve the health of current and future generations.
  • Specific recommendations, including those around a variety of nutrient-dense raw fruits and vegetables, bring to the fore food safety concerns as these foods are harvested, packed, shipped, and held until sale or consumption in stores and restaurants.
  • An eating pattern with enough foods from all food groups to meet nutrient needs without eating too many calories does not leave much room for calories from added sugars.

The entire Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, Eight Edition is available here. Need safety training for your culinary classroom? You know where to go.