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North American Meat Institute Statement on PCRM Petition to Remove Processed Meats From School Lunches

Friday, October 30, 2015

“The pro-vegan animal rights Physicians committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), is predictably seizing upon news about an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report as another tool to force meat off the plates of schoolchildren.

Notably, PCRM’s petition predated a clarifying statement from the WHO which said, in part, "The latest IARC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats.” The statement seemed intent on clarifying that its review was not a risk assessment it was a hazard assessment. The distinction is nuanced, but important. Hazard assessments identify thinks that could ever, possibly, under some circumstance and at some level, cause a risk of cancer.

IARC’s other hazard assessments have found sun and outdoor air to be Class I carcinogens. Based upon PCRM’s logic, we presume that in addition to their efforts to take away nutrient dense foods that kids enjoy and actually eat, they would like to see recess cancelled to protect the children.

We stand by nutrition benefits that meat – both fresh and processed -- provide for growing children. Some of the evidence is catalogued here in a scientific library where peer reviewed studies show that:

--Meat is one of the best sources of the most absorbable form of iron, and iron deficiency in children can lead to significant health issues like anemia.

--Animal products are the only natural sources of B12 and vegetarians and vegans must supplement with B12 due to their absence of B12 in their diets. Deficits in vitamin B12 (cobalamin) have negative consequences on the developing brain during infancy; and deficits of both vitamins are associated with a greater risk of depression during adulthood.

--Meat is nutrient dense and contributes a wide array of nutrients like zinc, the B vitamins and complete protein with all the amino acids needed for health. And as one researcher wrote, “With elimination of meat and increased intake of phytate-containing legumes and whole grains, the absorption of both iron and zinc is lower with vegetarian than with non-vegetarian, diets.”

--Nutrient dense foods like meat in balanced diets improve school performance, too.

If PCRM members don’t want their children to eat fresh and processed meat at school, then their children can enjoy the vegetarian options that are always available, but don’t take away a food option that even WHO says can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.”

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