Industry calls for better public message on red meat and health
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has called for the positive health benefits of consuming lean red meat to be more widely-known in order to ensure an informed public debate.
This was the message presented by experts at the HCC Annual Conference held in the Vale of Glamorgan on 9th November.
Before an audience of policy makers and food industry leaders, independent dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton argued that beef, lamb and pork, consumed as part of a balanced healthy diet, offer many benefits. These include helping people to reach optimal intakes of iron and zinc, and acting as a natural source of high-quality protein.
Dr Ruxton, who has published in a variety of scientific journals on nutrition as well as featuring on a number of television documentaries, presented evidence to show the positive benefits of meat.
“Consumers may be forgiven for being confused when they read sensationalist or conflicting coverage about meat and health,” said Ruxton, “so it’s important that they see the whole picture.
“Most people in Britain do not consume excessive amounts of meat,” she explained. “So long as consumers adhere to the Government advice of eating less than 500g (1lb) cooked red meat a week and choosing leaner cuts, there is no evidence whatsoever of links between red meat and cancer, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. This is good news for people who enjoy eating red meat.”
She added: “Blanket advice to eat less red meat does consumers no favours as it tends to be acted on by women and girls who are the lowest consumers. Lean lamb, beef and pork are rich in protein and important nutrients for health, such as iron, zinc, vitamin D and B vitamins. Many people in society, particularly the elderly, women, girls and young children often lack these nutrients and could benefit from eating more red meat, while four in ten men could do with eating slightly less.”
The HCC conference also heard from Frances Meek, senior education officer at the British Nutrition Foundation. Meek outlined the work of the Meat and Education programme in conveying balanced messages to teachers and pupils about the role of meat in a healthy balanced diet.
“HCC and Meat and Education have worked together closely over the past year in producing a range of resources for Welsh schools which reflect responsible, evidence-based advice on the role lean red meat can play in a healthy, balanced diet,” said Meek.
“Educating young people about the food they eat is key and I was pleased that this was a key issue at this major industry event.”