RED meat supply chains are closely monitoring the progress of the current review of Australia’s dietary guidelines, especially in light of growing criticism from health experts over the lack of evidence behind the recommended limits.
There are also widespread concerns in the beef industry that vested interests, such as the processed food and grain companies, have had a strong influence on government-approved dietary advice.
The current ADG recommendations are that people limit their intake of unprocessed red meat to 65 grams per day.
The guidelines, overseen by the National Board of Health and Medical Research, are revised every ten years and the next edition is expected to be published in early 2024.
NHMRC Executive Director Professor Anne Kelso told a recent Senate hearing that it was a thorough process to define the scope of the review, undertake detailed reviews of the evidence, publish a project for public consultation, collect comments and finally publish the new version. It would take almost four years, she said.
Expressions of interest from experts to serve on the review committee were requested last year and the 51 nominations are currently being assessed, she said.
Conflicts of interest were taken into account.
Top medics including the Australian of the Year 2020 and eye surgeon Dr James Muecke have described the current guidelines as flawed, biased and unscientific.
Dr. Muecke has publicly challenged the ADG link between dietary saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. He says there is no evidence to link whole dairy products, unprocessed red meat and eggs to heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Anthony Power, a registered nutritionist in Brisbane, said recommendations for limits for red meat came only from observational studies – no randomized trials or extensive research linking red meat to disease.
The recommendations were certainly not based on science, he said.
He said Australia’s guidelines draw heavily on US recommendations and research.
The latest US review “looked very much at who the best lobbyists were,” he said.
“The majority of the references used came directly from industry-sponsored articles, manufacturers of grains, pulses and nuts,” Mr. Power said.
“Science definitely didn’t end first and now we have to deal with the continuing effect of historical errors,” he said.
“The red meat industry really needs to be careful, because this time around there is also a new player. Alternative protein people seem to have deep pockets and a lot of energy to lobby.”
MLA nutrition scientist and board member Manny Noakes called the reasoning behind the 65g limit “tenuous.”
Speaking to Kerry Lonergan on The Weekly Grill podcast, she said he was influenced by a suspected link to colon cancer, but there were now a number of studies showing that link was tenuous. There were also researchers who believed it could be a completely bogus relationship, she said.
“The real problem with health is that people eat way too much junk food,” Professor Noakes said.
“Sometimes that is forgotten when people talk about Meatless Monday. Junk food less on Monday would be a lot more productive.”
Professor Noakes warned that meat could be restricted in the future for environmental reasons.
It would be “very unstable” to restrict the consumption of red meat further when it provides a large part of the nutrients in the Australian diet, she said.
“Eating too much food overall is our biggest problem. As a developed country, there is a lot of room to reduce our environmental impact by eating less junk food,” Professor Noakes said.
Red Meat Advisory Board chairman John McKillop said ADGs should be evidence-based and free from anti-meat and anti-breeding interests.
“While red meat contains only one ingredient, more and more health concerns are increasingly raised by highly manufactured vegetable and synthetic proteins,” he said.
“It is clear that no other product will ever replace our locally grown beef, lamb and goat.
“International interest groups have already been exposed for pushing a deceptive anti-meat nutritional program.
“The point is that many of these groups are anti-herding with the mistaken belief that it is somehow possible to feed and clothe the world without using the pastures, most of which are unsuitable for people. cash crops. ”
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