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Nutrient Dense Lean Meat Is a Headline, Not a Footnote

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Attribute Comments on Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report to North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter

Washington, D.C. --“We appreciate the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) recognition of the important role that lean meat can play in a healthy balanced diet, but lean meat’s relegation to a footnote ignores the countless studies and data that the Committee reviewed for the last two years that showed unequivocally that meat and poultry are among the most nutrient dense foods available. Nutrient dense lean meat is a headline, not a footnote.

The Committee’s contradictory advice to reduce processed meats is also non-sensical, especially given data the committee reviewed about the Mediterranean diet.

Followers of the Mediterranean diet – the diet hailed by so many for its good nutrition and health outcomes – consume twice as many processed meats as included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food patterns.

Meat and poultry products are nutrient dense foods that satisfy hunger and help control weight and are an excellent source of iron, a nutrient of concern specifically highlighted by the DGAC. Processing meat and poultry so that it can be more readily consumed – and consumed in styles and flavor profiles that people around the world savor – helps ensure that people can make these products part of their healthy balanced diet.

It is also unfortunate the Committee is generalizing about an entire category of foods. Processed meat and poultry products are diverse and include low-fat, low- sodium, gluten-free, natural, organic, kosher, halal and regular formulations, along with countless flavors and styles.

As they develop the final policy report, we urge the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to acknowledge lean meat’s role in a healthy diet and to undertake a careful review of the information about processed meats that was reviewed by the committee. Consumers should rely on common sense and make all meat and poultry a part of their healthy balanced diets with confidence.”

Sustainability Conclusions Remain Flawed

“As NAMI has pointed out in previous comments to the committee, the Dietary Guidelines Committee’s charter tasked them with reviewing nutrition science, which is the field from which Committee members were selected. The Committee’s foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope and expertise. It’s akin to having a dermatologist provide recommendations about cardiac care.

It’s notable that new research was released in late 2014 which looked at the issue of food sustainability in a new way. Instead of analyzing the carbon footprint on similar equal amounts of different foods, researchers suggested that the total nutrition provided by those equal amounts must also be considered. Ten pounds of beef or pork provide more complete nutrition when consumed than 10 pounds of rice or broccoli.

If our government believes Americans should factor sustainability into their choices, guidance should come from a panel of sustainability experts that understands the complexity of the issue and address all segments transportation, construction, energy management and all forms of agriculture. Total sustainability analyses were not considered by the Advisory Committee, whose recommendations appear to be based on personal opinions or social agendas.”

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