Lean meat is healthy, industry group argues

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) called the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s decision to remove lean meat from its description of a healthy dietary pattern “stunning.”

“The change was made behind closed doors during a lunch break at the final December 15 meeting,” NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter said in a news release. “Actions made in haste behind closed doors are not rooted in science and do not make good public policy.”  

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The committee modified its summary statement to say that common characteristics of dietary patterns associated with positive health outcomes include high intake of vegetable, fruits, whole grains, low and nonfat dairy, fish, seafood, legumes and nuts, according to a video of the Dec. 15 meeting.

But NAMI said the committee disregarded earlier evidence from control trials, which showed strong and consistent evidence that red and processed meat consumption is part of healthy dietary patterns.

“Meat and poultry are an integral part of the American diet and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s failure to recognize the role of lean meat as a component of a healthy eating pattern is concerning and ill considered,” NAMI said. 

The group is urging the committee to reconsider and add lean meats back into the description of a healthy dietary pattern.

NAMI said dietary guidance should be practical, affordable, attainable and positive and should encourage Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet while respecting cultural forces, food preferences, budgets, availability and habits.