WASHINGTON – The US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have jointly released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which create the foundation of the nation’s nutrition policy and are updated every five years. Of special concern to the meat and poultry-processing industry, the new guidelines recommend that consumers should increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry. The guidelines emphasized replacing protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.

Other key points focused on balancing calories to manage weight, reduction of some food components and increased consumption of other foods and nutrients. Because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, the 7th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity, the US Department of Agriculture said. The guidelines recommend Americans establish a nutrient-dense diet. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said during today’s announcement that “not every calorie is the same.”

Richard Thorpe, Texas medical doctor and cattleman, said lean beef contributes to a well- balanced, nutrient-dense diet.

“When reading these guidelines, consumers need to realize that protein-packed lean beef accompanied by an increase in fruits and vegetables translates into a healthy choice. These guidelines reinforce the fact that Americans are over fed, yet undernourished,” Thorpe said on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Lean beef is a nutrient-rich food that, on average, provides 10 essential nutrients provided in only 154 calories. The guidelines are calling for a well-balanced diet and lean beef is a good place to start. Unless people are heavily relying on fortified foods, it is difficult for average Americans to meet their nutrient needs within appropriate calorie levels without foods like lean beef.”

Obesity, especially in children, appears to be a priority of this administration and beef contributes significantly to curbing this epidemic, Thorpe said.

Shalene McNeill, Ph.D., R.D. and NCBA executive director, human nutrition research, provided some details about how Americans’ diets have gone off track. “Given today’s focus on obesity, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee uncovered a striking finding: Over the last four decades, Americans have consumed nearly 200 calories more each day from flour and cereal products while calories from meat, eggs and nuts have remained virtually unchanged,” McNeill said in a statement issued by the beef checkoff.

Beef is a perfect solution for managing weight as there are 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean, including sirloin, flank steak and 95% lean ground beef, McNeill said. She also clarified the departments’ direction about fish. “A recommendation to add fish to your diet doesn’t mean you should cut back on lean beef. Both sources of protein offer unique yet equally important nutrients,” McNeill said. “Beef is a leading source of several nutrients including protein, iron and zinc while cold-water fish, like salmon, are among top sources of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.”

“Although presumably unintentional, by calling for moderate amounts of lean beef, USDA may confuse some consumers who assume this means we are over-consuming red meat,” Thorpe added. “We agree with promoting fruit and vegetable consumption, but there is no reason to make it sound like meat is over-consumed when that is not at all true. On average, US consumers eat 1.7 ounces of US beef daily. To stay healthy, we need to eat 5 to 7 oz. from the meat and beans group daily.”