13 March 1998

Average red meat meal OK

FARMING leaders and the meat industry have welcomed a new report which says there is no need for anyone eating 90g (3oz) or less red meat a day – the average British consumption – to reduce their intake.

Following a study into links between cancer and nutrition, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) highlighted the importance of meat in a balanced diet.

Last September, health secretary Frank Dobson issued a statement, before the COMA report had been finalised, saying the committee had recommended that the average consumption of red meat should fall to reduce the risk of stomach and bowel cancer.

But on publication this week, the experts advised there was no need for those on average red meat intake to reduce what they ate and merely added that those eating considerably more than 90g (3oz) of red meat a day "might" benefit from a reduction.

Both the NFU and Meat and Livestock Commission were outraged last year at Mr Dobsons comments. This week, however, both welcomed COMAs advice.

The NFU said the committees acknowledgement of the role red meat played as part of a healthy and balanced diet was sensible.

And MLC director general, Colin Maclean, said: "People should be aware of the importance of meat in a balanced diet – it contains a significant range of minerals and vitamins essential to health. "Indeed, the report itself refers to concerns about low consumption of red meat and possible consequent risks of developing iron deficiency and anaemia."