Government publishes watered-down COMA red meat report

06 March 1998

Government publishes "watered-down" COMA red meat report

A GOVERNMENT report warning of the risk of colon cancer associated with eating red meat was substantially watered-down yesterday.

The initial report, released by health minister Frank Dobson in September last year, sparked outrage from the meat industry when he suggested people eating average amounts of red meat should consider cutting down.

The Health Departments food safety advisory body, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA), was ready to release its redrafted version yesterday – some six months after its initial release.

Kenneth Calman, the Governments chief medical officer, was left answering the medias questions after Government ministers went noticeably quiet.

Mr Calman said people eating the average daily amount – about 90 grams or eight to 10 portions of red meat a week – need not cut back. But those eating more than the average amount – up to 140 grams a day or 12 to 14 portions a week – “might” benefit from a reduction, he said.

It concluded that lower consumption of red meat would probably reduce the risk of colorectal cancer but it said eating too little meat could also have
bad effects such as iron deficiency.

The Conservatives accused the government of being “in chaos” and condemned it for damaging the beef industry by issuing misleading advice last September when Mr Dobson made his statement.

The Meat and Livestock Commission welcomed the redrafted report and the inclusion of red meat in a balanced diet.

  • Financial Times 06/02/98 page 8
  • The Independent 06/02/98 page 10
  • The Guardian 06/02/98 page 5
  • The Daily Telegraph 06/02/98 page 1, page 2

  • (see FWi – Government back peddles over red meat advice).

  • See more