“Red and processed meat continues to be a healthy part of a balanced diet and nutrition decisions should be based on the total body of evidence, not on single studies that include weak and inconsistent evidence,” according to Betsy Booren, American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) director of scientific affairs.

The assertion refutes a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine which attempts to predict the future risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease by relying on notoriously unreliable self-reporting about what was eaten and obtuse methods to apply statistical analysis to the data.

“This imprecise approach is like relying on consumers’ personal characterization of their driving habits in prior years in determining their likelihood of having an accident that kills them in the future,” according to a AMIF press release. “It has a high likelihood of giving erroneous conclusions.”

Beyond the major weakness of this being an epidemiological study which uses survey data – not test tubes, microscopes or lab measurements--the researchers method of collecting and analyzing their data is highly inaccurate, according to AMIF.  The information in the report indicates that estimates of red and processed meat intake were only 27 - 35 percent accurate versus actual measurements.  The researchers also inserted estimated data where an actual  survey measurement was missing and also stopped updating  the dietary information once participants reported a diagnosis. All of these factors could have significant impacts on the results.

“Too often, epidemiological findings are reported as ‘case closed’ findings, as if a researcher has discovered the definitive cause of a disease or illness. More often than not, epidemiological studies, over time, provide more contradictions than conclusions,” Booren said.

Booren concluded by saying, “What the total evidence has shown, and what common sense suggests, is that a balanced diet and a healthy body weight are the keys to good health.”