SAMANTHA BOAS: Welcome to Inside the Incredible Egg.
Inside the Incredible Egg is a podcast produced by the American Egg Board with
the purpose of keeping our producers up to date with what’s happening at the
board and in the egg industry. I’m Samantha, this summer’s industry affairs and
engagement intern. Today’s episode will cover the role of eggs in the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025. To talk about the Guidelines, I have
with me Dr. Mickey Rubin, the executive director of the Egg Nutrition Center at
the American Egg Board.
BOAS: What should our audience know about our efforts
related to producing the Dietary Guidelines?
MICKEY RUBIN: The Dietary Guidelines are the federal
nutrition policy for the U.S., and they are published by the government. It’s a
team effort by the US Department of Agriculture and Departments of Health and
Human Services. The process is very science based. The USDA or the HHS appoints
a committee of scientific experts, mostly nutrition researchers and researchers
in other health areas, who review all of the relevant science over the course
of a couple of years or so. It’s a very in-depth process. And they come up with
recommendations to the government on what they think should be in the
guidelines. And then the government publishes the Dietary Guidelines policy
The guidelines are important because it basically sets a
standard for any food and nutrition program that is overseen by the government.
So, we’re talking school nutrition programs, we’re talking programs for
seniors, we’re talking any program that involves nutrition at all follows the
guidelines. The best examples are school nutrition, WIC and SNAP programs, and
things like that all follow the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations.
The American Egg Board Egg Nutrition Center participate in
the process like any other citizen in the United States can participate in the
process. It’s a public process, which means that there are opportunities throughout
the two or three years that the guidelines are in development. There are
opportunities to participate, either in the form of written comments submitted
to the committee and to the agencies in charge of the process. Also, there are
times when there’s opportunity for oral comments, so traveling to the
organization and appearing in front of the committee and providing commentary
We also monitor the discussions that are going on. It’s a
public process, all the meetings of the Advisory Committee are public, and you
can listen live online or in person. From that, we determine what science are
they looking at, what science is relevant to eggs, and make sure that whatever
science relevant to eggs in the areas they’re talking about is submitted to them
and they are made aware of it. So, we are really tasked with monitoring
discussion, understanding the high priority areas of the committee and making
sure that all the relevant science related to eggs gets reviewed as part of
BOAS: Given that background of how the Dietary
Guidelines work, and how AEB got involved with them, what specific insights do
the guidelines give regarding egg consumption?
RUBIN: I think they’ve certainly evolved over the
years. So, you know, we have every five years there’s a new guideline that
comes out, every five years there’s a new Advisory Committee report that comes
out. And they’re really two separate documents and kind of serve two different
purposes. And each time there’s different insights that we can glean from them.
One of the things that I really focus on, when that Advisory Committee report
comes out, they usually detail several areas that are in need of future research,
that are research gaps. And so we take a look at that very closely because if
those topics at all are related to eggs, then that could feed right into the Egg
Nutrition Center nutrition research program. So that’s really important.
We look at how eggs are recommended for various age groups.
This year, one of the nutrients that was pointed out by the Dietary Guidelines’
Advisory Committee was choline, and they basically said that nobody is getting
enough choline. Nobody’s meeting recommendations. They identify choline as a
nutrient that poses special challenges because hardly any age group is meeting
those recommendations. But, they pointed out specifically the importance of choline
during pregnancy because of the importance of choline in brain development for
infants and toddlers. So, we look pretty closely at things like that. And we
look to see they established the fact that choline is important during that
life stage. And then we also look to see what other research is needed on that
topic that might actually help us understand that area better. And that might
refine the recommendations in the future on those topics.
BOAS: Were there any other topics or insights from
the guidelines that specifically relate to eggs?
RUBIN: The recommendations for children from birth to
two years of age, they’d never had this before. And so we were really curious
about what those were going to look like. Because it’s a different area, we’re
obviously talking about infants and toddlers, most of whom, up until the age of
six months or so, their only diet consists of breastfeeding and formula
feeding. So, what are the recommendations going to look like for when these
kiddos start having real solid foods? The really fascinating insight that we learned
there is that there are really fundamental first foods for this age group, and
for a couple of reasons.
One was eggs, the other was seafood, and the other were
nuts. And so the reason why those three were called out, one in particular that
apply to all three and you might recognize, all three as potential allergens. What
the research on food allergy has shown just in the last five to 10 years is
that we don’t want to restrict potential allergens from children anymore, we
want to introduce those allergens early. Because when we introduce those
allergens early, that actually reduces the risk of developing an allergy to
those foods later on. So that was pointed out as being important.
And then, in addition to that, those three foods also, they’re
recognizable as also pretty healthy foods. They’re very nutrient dense, eggs
are nutrient dense. So those three foods, not only important for early
introduction for reducing allergy risk, but also for their nutrient density,
and for the nutrients that they contain that are quite critical for brain
development, as well. So, I think that to me, is probably the biggest learning
from the guidelines that is related to eggs.
BOAS: Are there any new learnings that apply beyond
the birth to age two age group?
RUBIN: Well, I mentioned already about choline across
the lifespan. We saw some other interesting things come from the Advisory
Committee. There’s not enough choline being consumed in adolescence as well.
Protein is another one that I thought was really interesting. You hear a lot
about protein and oh, Americans, we eat too much protein anyway, we don’t need
any more protein, but it really is age specific. Adolescent girls, teenage
girls are actually not meeting the recommendation. Boys are at it or above it,
but we really need to look at protein from an age group-specific lens and
making sure that the recommendations are catered specific to those who need
One other thing that I think is important to note, and this
goes back to the previous guidelines in 2015. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines
removed dietary cholesterol from their list of nutrients of concern. I think
what’s important here in the newest guidelines, the 2020 guidelines, is that
this guideline carries forward that same recommendation that dietary
cholesterol is not a nutrient of public health concern, there is no limit to
dietary cholesterol intake in the guidelines, similar to what was recommended
BOAS: So based on the guidelines and what they say
about eggs, how are you and the rest of the American Egg Board going to utilize
that information moving forward?
RUBIN: The guidelines are sort of fundamental to
almost everything we do from a health and nutrition perspective. The guidelines
really serve as a great foundation for all of our messaging around nutrition
and eggs in the context of healthy dietary patterns. So since eggs exist in all
three healthy dietary patterns, as defined by the Dietary Guidelines, that
allows us to scribe that in our messaging to health professionals who are
interested in understanding the role of eggs in a healthy diet. So, it really
serves as a basis for almost everything we do in our nutrition communications
BOAS: Based on everything we’ve talked about, is
there anything else you would like to add?
RUBIN: I would just want to reinforce that the Dietary
Guidelines are a critically important component of the nutrition landscape here
in the U.S. As I said, they serve as the basis for all nutrition policy, and
that gets translated into recommendations by health professionals. But they
also serve as the basis for our work, our nutrition communications, our
messaging to health professionals around the role of eggs in healthy dietary
patterns. But also, I think everybody should have confidence in them that they
are science-based, that the science is evaluated critically by experts who make
these recommendations to the agencies that produce the guidelines. And it
represents the best nutrition science that we have. And they continue to evolve
as we learn more from nutrition science. The guidelines will evolve with the
BOAS: I’d like to give a special thanks to Dr. Rubin
for taking the time to chat with me about the Dietary Guidelines. And thanks
for listening to Inside the Incredible Egg.