Red Meat Is Back on the Menu — Well, Sort Of

A new study is challenging long-held beliefs that consumers should eat less of this food because of possible links to disease — yet some authorities are already pushing back

For years Americans have been told to cut back on or watch their consumption of red meat and processed meats — out of an abiding caution that those foods could be linked to certain illnesses.

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A new study just out is challenging that.

The study — published on Monday in The Annals of Internal Medicine — is challenging widespread recommendations to limit the intake of red and processed meats, saying there is no need to cut back.

“The panel suggests adults continue current unprocessed red meat consumption” — while also suggesting that adults “continue current processed meat consumption,” according to the study’s guidelines.

As Gina Kolata in The New York Times put it, “If there are health benefits from eating less beef and pork, they are small, the researchers concluded. Indeed, the advantages are so faint that they can be discerned only when looking at large populations, the scientists said, and are not sufficient to tell individuals to change their meat-eating habits.”

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But some people have many questions — including why the study grouped red meat and processed meats together, when so much about those foods and their health benefits (or not) depends on the individual foods and how they’re processed or prepared.

And the new study is hardly a joyous, all-out recommendation to go out and eat red meat or processed meats four or five times a day.

As The Times pointed out about the findings, “Already they have been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them.”

“The recommendations were developed using the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) guideline development process,” a piece in Fox Business pointed out.

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“NutriRECS is an independent group with clinical, nutritional and public health content expertise whose mission is to ‘produce trustworthy nutritional guideline recommendations based on the values, attitudes and preferences of patients and community members.'”

Both guidelines were considered a “weak” recommendation with “low-certainty” evidence.

The newly published study also considered only the impact of red meat on human health — excluding considerations of environmental impact or animal welfare.

So — lots of questions, and many people will be asking their nutritionists, doctors and other medical professionals for input and advice and opinion about all of this.

In the meantime, see these comments — and share your own “beefs” about this red meat information.

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