We use cookies

By using www.agricultureandfood.co.uk, you agree to the use of cookies. We use cookies to improve usability and for website statistics. You can read more about our privacy and cookie policy here.

4. Let common sense prevail

Sensational headlines, linking consumption of red and processed meats to a never-ending list of human ailments, continued for much of 2014 and seemed to go into ‘overdrive’ during the Christmas period. Since then we have enjoyed some examples of more balanced reporting and the well-established dietary ‘mantra’ about reducing consumption of fats and saturated fats is being increasingly challenged. However, there still remains much for the meat industry to do in defending the role of its products in a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Last year ended with a succession of press coverage regarding the possible links between lifestyle and cancer.


Role in a healthy diet?

Cancer Research UK set the ball rolling just before Christmas with publication of new research suggesting that around 600,000 lives would have been saved through healthier lifestyles. The report focused on a wide range of lifestyle factors but did conclude that around a quarter of these deaths could have been avoided by dietary improvements including eating less meat.

Their research was reported widely in the media:
Daily Mail
• Independent
• Mirror
• Telegraph

This was soon followed by reports of research work recently published by the University of California, identifying a sugar present in red meat (Neu5Gc), that ‘promotes inflammation and cancer in rodents’ and, thus, may present a similar risk to humans – again the media were happy to bring more Christmas ‘cheer’ to readers:
• Daily Mail
• Mirror
• Telegraph

A briefing document from the Meat Advisory Panel was issued to the media following these stories, emphasising the role that red meat can play within a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

However in early January, a little ‘against the run of play’, the media reported on research from the Johns Hopkins University in the US, concluding that only a third of cancers could be attributed to ‘environmental factors or inherited pre-dispositions, while the majority of cancer incidents are due to ‘bad luck’ (or rather ‘random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, non-cancerous stem cells’)…..surely not?
• BBC News
• Guardian
• Independent
• Telegraph

In a similar vein, the media gave plenty of coverage to a new research paper, published on the British Medical Journal online bulletin –'Open Heart' which suggested that the dietary guidelines recommended 40 years ago by public health bodies in the US and the UK, urging a reduction in consumption of fat and, in particular, saturated fat, were based on flawed research.

• Daily Mail
• Guardian
• Telegraph
• Huffington Post

Picking up this theme, the Daily Express cited a recent paper published by the Meat Advisory Panel, ‘Adam & Eve’, linking more recent dietary advice regarding high protein, fat and low sugar within an overall diet with the dietary habits of our early ancestors


Old ways are the best?

But, less complacency starts to set in within meat industry ranks, there was news from the US that new official dietary guidelines, to be published shortly, are to exclude ‘lean meat’.

A new study, published in the Lancet Global Health Journal, ranked countries round the world in terms of their consumption of 10 ‘healthy’ and 7 ‘unhealthy’ foods. In their analysis, many countries in the developed world performed poorly in relation to their counterparts in the developing world…and, perhaps, no surprise that meat appeared in the list of ‘unhealthy’ foods. 

 
Let common sense prevail

And finally, perhaps a modest triumph for ‘common sense’ the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges called on doctors to do more to promote the ‘miracle cure’ of regular exercise.

• Guardian
• Independent