Meat fat content lower than consumers think

Years of lobbying by ‘anti-meat’ campaigners have persuaded millions of consumers that red meat is far higher in fat than it actually is, according to a new survey of butchers’ customers.

Apparently nearly six in 10 people believe lean cuts of beef, lamb and pork typically contain 20% or even 30% fat. In fact, the level is well under 10%.

Around 66% of people think roast chicken is lower in fat than steak. However, 100g of roast lean topside of beef actually contains just 5.1g of fat, while 100g of roast chicken contains 7.5g.

The survey, conducted for industry information service MeatMATTERS, showed that men are better informed than women about the fat content of red meat, while older people are slightly better informed than younger consumers.

The findings come on the back of a campaign launched late last year by butchers, in which dietitians were invited into their shops to address customers directly on the myths about meat and to provide up-to-date nutritional information. Butchers in London, Nottingham, Newcastle, Chester, Cardiff and Claudy in Northern Ireland took part.

Johanna Hignett, a dietitian who participated in the scheme at London butcher Frank Godfrey, admitted that she was surprised by  some customers’ reactions.

“We had a great response from consumers,” she said, “but it is clear that there are a lot of myths about red meat. Several people even asked me if it was now ‘OK’ to eat red meat. One concern appears to be that people think red meat is high in fat. For lean pork, beef and lamb, this really could not be further from the truth.”

“Over the past 20 years, the fat content of red meat has fallen by a third on average,” Chris Lamb
of said. “The average fat content of lean lamb is now 8%, lean beef 5% and lean pork just 4%. This compares favourably with other protein foods that form a key part of the British diet.”

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