British public cutting back 'too much' on red meat

Some experts have questioned whether media coverage urging people to cut meat consumption may have gone too far
Some experts have questioned whether media coverage urging people to cut meat consumption may have gone too far

The British public are cutting back 'too much' on red meat amid increased sensationalist media coverage on the issue which the sector fears has gone too far.

A major opinion poll has suggested that most people in Britain are mistaken about how much fresh red meat they should be eating.

Official government guidelines on healthy diets say that adults can eat 500g a week of cooked red meat, or an average 70g a day.

But an exclusive opinion poll, commissioned to market research specialists BMG Research by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), shows that 53% of people think that the recommended intake is half that figure.

The findings have prompted some nutritional experts to question whether media coverage urging people to cut down on their meat consumption may have gone too far.

They point out that some groups in society are deficient in the key nutrients that red meat can provide – such as Iron, Zinc and Vitamin B12.

Independent nutritionist, Dr. Zoë Harcombe, said that red meat is 'nutrient dense' and the consumer should be' embracing it at any opportunity'.

“A 150g steak would provide half the daily zinc requirement, while making an excellent contribution to our B vitamin (mood, memory & muscles) and iron intakes,” she said.

“With iron being the world's most widespread nutrient deficiency, we restrict red meat at our peril, girls and women especially, as our requirements are higher.”

Important nutrients found in red meat

HCC’s opinion poll did, however, show that most adults are aware of some of the most important nutrients that can be obtained from lamb, beef and pork.

72% of respondents correctly identified that red meat was high in protein, which can support growth and maintenance of muscles.

Meanwhile, 56% knew that it was a source of iron, which is an essential mineral required to help the red blood cells transport oxygen to the rest of the body and also assists in energy production.

HCC Consumer Executive, Elwen Roberts said the red meat body's campaigns encourage consumers to 'get the right facts' on what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet.

“We will continue to emphasise the positive contribution that lean Welsh Lamb, Welsh Beef and pork in moderation can bring to the diet of all demographic groups,” he said.

“The nutrients they contain are easily absorbed by the body, and have been proven to support mental health performance, fight tiredness and boost the immune system.

“Our recent consumer campaigns have tried to drive home this message by working with leading sports stars such as Shane Williams and Elinor Snowsill to emphasise the high protein content in red meat, and its suitability as part of the diet of people with active lifestyles.”