Nutrition & Animal Health

Red meat objects to sustainability element in dietary guidelines

Sheep Central, February 21, 2024


THE red meat industry has called on the Federal Government to scrap plans to introduce an environmental sustainability element of the national dietary guidelines.

A review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines is currently underway after the Federal Government allocated $2.5m in funding to the National Health and Medical Research Council. NHMRC is now seeking applications for a “sustainability working group”.

Many in the red meat industry have raised concerns about the idea of conflating environmental sustainability with dietary guidelines. The main fear is that it will expose the guidelines to ideological agendas that could discount the important nutritional value of red meat.

Red Meat Advisory Council chair John McKillop said the working group was a complete overreach and needed to be abandoned.

“There are already people who do not have access to basic nutritional requirements afforded by red meat protein, which results in adverse health outcomes,” Mr McKillop said.

“Taking a local lens, one in five women are iron deficient in Australia; we should be working to solve these problems, not make them worse. The dietary guidelines review process must not be allowed to be used as a vehicle to drive ideological agendas at the expense of the latest available nutritional science.

“The red meat industry has a strong story about sustainability, so our concerns are not because we believe it’s a weakness, but because it’s not the role of the dietary guidelines nor is it the expertise of the Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee.”

Failing to grasp reality of modern beef production

Cattle Australia chief executive officer Chris Parker said the organisation was concerned the working group would fail to grasp the reality of modern beef production and muddy the waters for consumers on how best to optimise their health through nutrition.

“Australian beef producers prioritise their responsibility to care for natural resources and we absolutely stand behind our sustainability credentials and commitment to continual improvement, as evidenced by the gains we consistently make across a range of environmental measures,” Dr Parker said.

“Any move that provides an opportunity for environmental ideologies or agendas that fail to understand the world-leading work being undertaken by Australian beef producers, and which ignores both the positive contribution we make to the landscape and the nutritional needs of our community, is entirely misguided and inappropriate.

“A typical 150g serving of Australian beef contains 12 essential nutrients recommended for good health and is a powerful source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12.”

Trust in the review needed

Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said the sustainability working group had the potential to erode trust in the review.

“The review process must not be used as a vehicle to drive ideological agendas at the expense of the latest available nutritional science.

“Australians must have confidence that the review of the nation’s dietary guidelines is based on robust nutritional science,” he said.

“This is critical for promoting public health, preventing chronic diseases and ensuring that all Australian have access to accurate and reliable information about their basic nutritional requirements.”


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