Making the case for meat

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – Organizations representing beef and pork producers continue to fight proposed government recommendations advising Americans to eat less meat as was suggested in The Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which was submitted to the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council submitted additional comments on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) report. The public comment period ended May 8. Critics of the report, which was released in February, said dietary guidance for Americans still overlooks the importance of lean meat as part of a balanced and healthy diet. Industry groups also challenged the DGAC’s recommendation that consumers consider environmental impacts when choosing the foods they eat.

NPPC said in its comments that purchasing decisions by consumers and other entities are directly influenced by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which is why the guidelines should be based on sound and current scientific evidence.

“Animal protein is the preeminent source of protein in the American diet, and this is supported by sound, current science,” NPPC said. “Pork especially is a lean, nutrient-dense source of protein that is both affordable and accessible to most Americans.”

NCBA noted that US beef producers have responded to consumer demand for leaner beef. Since the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were first issued in 1980, NCBA said, external fat on retail beef cuts dropped 81 percent and per capita available total fat from beef dropped 44 percent while saturated fat declined 29 percent.

“We urge you to ignore the over-generalized recommendation to reduce red meat consumption as it is not based upon the most recent evidence and, as history has shown, could likely be misinterpreted, leading to detrimental health consequences for many Americans,” NCBA said.

The DGAC’s Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee appeared in the Feb. 23 issue of the Federal Register. The USDA and HHS are scheduled to release the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 later this year.
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