WASHINGTON – The American Meat Institute submitted its commentsto the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, providing detailed information about important nutritional benefits of meat and poultry.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committeemakes recommendations that will serve as the basis for the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Every five years, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated and published jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture. The committee requested comments on sodium reduction and food safety among issues.

AMI noted that meat, poultry and fish contain more protein per serving than dairy, eggs, legumes, or cereals, vegetables, or nuts. Meat and poultry consumption also can prevent vitamin deficiencies.

“In addition to high quality protein, meat and poultry also are important and rich sources of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, and Vitamins B12, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and potassium. Up to 16 percent of US adults and more than 20 percent over 60 years old are marginally depleted in vitamin B12,” AMI wrote. “Deficiency increases with age, with about six percent of those more than 70 years old being deficient in vitamin B12. Recent research also has demonstrated the role that meat and poultry can play in ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake. These nutrients are either not present in plant foods or have low bioavailability.”

AMI added that the meat and poultry industry has accepted the challenge of reducing sodium in meat in and poultry products while maintaining food safety, and product reformulation is underway in more than 50 percent of the processed meat and poultry market industry.

“As an ingredient in meat products, salt is used as a preservative, which is one aspect of a multi-hurdle approach toward maintaining product safety,” AMI said. “In the last 20 years, the meat and poultry industry has also learned in more quantitative fashion the importance of sodium chloride in managing pathogenic bacterial risks presented byL. monocytogenes,Salmonella, and pathogenicE. coliin processed meat and poultry items.”

Along with a deeper understanding of the role sodium plays in maintaining food safety, the meat and poultry industry has greatly improved the safety of meat and poultry products. AMI pointed out that
Listeria monocytogeneson ready-to-eat meat and poultry products declined 81 percent between 2000 and 2011, whileEscherichia coliO157:H7 in raw ground beef tumbled 85 percent decline between 2000 and 2013. Additionally,Salmonellain young chickens declined 79 percent from the original performance standard and dropped 43 percent from the new standard in 2012.Salmonella in turkey dropped 89 percent from the original performance standard, although it increased 29 percent from the new standard in 2012.

Finally, Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data have shown a corresponding decline in foodborne illness historically associated with meat and poultry products, AMI said.