A scientific panel’s advice that Americans eat “only moderate” amounts of lean meat and eggs has met with stiff resistance from meat and egg industry groups. The groups contend that it could discourage consumption of those products, according to a report in the Des Moines Register.

The advice is contained in recommendations made to the Obama administration for revising the government’s dietary guidelines.

“Lean meat is a vital source of high-quality protein and certainly should not be framed as a food to limit in the American diet,” Chelsie Redalen, director of government relations for the National Pork Producers Council told government officials.

She and representatives of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the United Egg Producers also expressed concern over another recommendation that consumers shift to “a more plant-based diet,” featuring fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains.

“Urging Americans to shift to a more plant-based diet and consume only moderate amounts of lean meat implies they should decrease consumption of this vital, complete protein,” she said.

The dietary guidelines are revised every five years to reflect the latest scientific findings about nutrition and health and will be used to direct changes in school lunches and other federal nutrition programs.

Read more.

In separate comments to the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Meat Institute defended the importance of meat and poultry in the diet.

AMI Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren noted in her testimony that meat and poultry is allocated a relatively small part of the pyramid, yet the benefits from its share of the pyramid are significant.

Booren pointed out that in addition to protein, meat and poultry also are important and rich sources of micronutrients such as iron, selenium, Vitamins A, B12, and folic acid.  These nutrients are not present in plant foods or, if they are, they have low bioavailibity.  Supplementation, while useful, does not completely address issues of bioavailability. 

AMI has been actively engaged in the development of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, participating in all six Committee meetings and twice submitting detailed comments concerning sodium’s role in meat and poultry products and the health benefits of consuming animal-based proteins as part of a balanced diet.

View Booren’s comments.

Source: Des Moines Register, AMI