Meat industry criticises BBC Horizon programme

The BBC Horizon two-part series, Should I Eat Meat?, has been criticised by the meat industry for suggesting people should consume less meat.

Last night’s second and final instalment of BBC Horizon, Should I Eat Meat?, assessed the environmental impact of livestock farming, which Mosley concluded could be prevented by reducing meat consumption and finding alternative animal proteins, such as mussels.

However, it was the first part which caused the biggest stir in the industry. Mosley embarked on a “high-meat” diet, which saw his red-meat consumption increase to 130 grams a day, 60g more than the 70g recommended daily allowance.

Commenting on the Horizon programme, Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) said: “While the Horizon programme recognised and emphasised the nutritional benefits of red meat and the important role it plays in our diet, the high-meat diet test wasn’t properly conducted and, therefore, is not a fair comparison.

Meanwhile, Roger Leicester, also a member of MAP and a surgeon and bowel cancer specialist, criticised the study Mosley investigated: “In terms of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study, which was mentioned in the Horizon programme, this study is an analysis of dietary intakes of meat assessed by questionnaires, which is an unreliable research method. In fact, other studies have found no association between red meat and cancer, and rates of bowel cancer are similar in meat-eaters and vegetarians.”

In its official response to the series, MAP suggested such “scaremongering” programmes could have a negative impact on those in society who require more protein in their diet.

This was echoed by beef and lamb levy board Eblex, which suggested that media reports on meat consumption should be taken in “moderation”: “No doubt, the sensationalist stories suggesting that various food types cause various illnesses and cancers will continue. Perhaps the headlines should be taken in moderation too.”

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