Meat industry hits back at meat and Alzheimer’s claim

Eblex has hit back at reports in the media after claims that eating too much red meat could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, based on research that is “far from conclusive”.

Last week (23 August), the Daily Mail reported a link between red meat and Alzheimer’s following a UCLA study, which focused on the link between Alzheimer’s and iron.

Published by Dr George Bartzokis at UCLA, the research explained that an excessive intake of iron could potentially be a third risk factor of Alzheimer’s, while briefly mentioning meat as a source of iron.

However, communications manager for Eblex James Wilde said: “As pointed out by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the research is far from conclusive and cannot say whether the build-up of iron is a cause or symptom of the condition.”

The report further stated that ageing was the main risk behind developing the disorder and the second risk was the two proteins tau and beta-amyloid.

Bartzokis explained that there are a few ways limited iron could affect risk of the disease. “The accumulation of iron in the brain may be influenced by modifying environmental factors such as how much red meat and iron dietary supplements we consume and, in women, having hysterectomies before menopause,” he said.

Due to the rising number of stories criticising consumption of meat in UK tabloids lately, Wilde told MeatInfo.co.uk that stories “knocking” red meat had a wide appeal for the media because “red meat is at the heart of our culture”.

“As happens so often, inconclusive research is published under a banner headline about red meat. It is a sad fact that the meat industry is an easy target and all the good news stories we have are too often confined to the spike by the mainstream media.

“The studies we so often see in the media do not hold substance when you drill down into them. They are never causal studies but epidemiological ones, where looking at the effects of red meat is not the main driver.”

Although excessive intake of iron could be a third risk factor to the disorder, the World Health Organisation has claimed that iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world.

Wilde continued: “There are so many positives about lean red meat in terms of health, sustainability, quality and nutrition. It is a fantastic source of iron, zinc, protein and vitamins and brings benefits, whatever age you are, as shown in the recent Seven Ages of Man paper published by the British Nutrition Foundation.”

However, Wilde added that consumers rarely changed buying patterns after “silly season scare stories” as the majority are aware that “smoking, drinking and lifestyle are far more likely to have a serious effect on health”.

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