Industry needs to communicate health benefits of meat

The meat industry has been told that it should be doing more to portray the health benefits of consuming red meat to the public. 

Speaking before a group of policy-makers and food industry experts at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) annual conference in the Vale of Glamorgan last week, dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton said beef, lamb and pork play an important role in a balanced diet, including helping the consumer reach optimum levels of iron and zinc, as well as providing a natural source of protein. 

“Consumers may be forgiven for being confused when they read sensationalist or conflicting coverage about meat and health, so it’s important that they see the whole picture,” Ruxton told the delegates.

“Most people in Britain do not consume excessive amounts of meat. 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.”

Ruxton commented that “blanket advice” to eat less red meat was insignificant as it was usually women and girls, the lowest consumers of meat, who tended to act upon the advice.

“Lean lamb, beef and pork are rich in protein and important nutrients for health, such as iron, zinc, vitamin D and B vitamins,” she said. “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 10 men could do with eating slightly less.”

To help promote the role that red meat plays in building a strong body, HCC last week launched its ‘Are You Beef Body Ready?’ campaign with the support of Welsh international rugby union player, Dan Lydiate. The red meat levy board is encouraging consumers to take to social media filling in the blank in the sentence: ‘I need to be #BeefBodyReady because ___” for their chance to win tickets for Wales’ final Autumn International rugby union match against South Africa.

British Nutrition Foundation senior education officer Frances Meek also addressed the audience, outlining the work of the Meat and Education programme in conveying balanced messages to teachers and pupils about the role of meat in the 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.” 

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