Government to urge cut in red meat consumption

Government advisors are likely to call on consumers to cut back on red meat consumption. The government-commissioned report, which claims eating less red meat and processed meat lowers the risk of cancer, was given front page coverage in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

The guidelines, compiled by the Department of Health’s scientific advisory committee on nutrition (SACN), are reported to advise consumers should eat no more than 70g of red or processed meat a day – with a weekly limit of 500g.

According to the Telegraph, a Whitehall source told a Sunday newspaper: “It is important that people are not put off eating red meat entirely – but it would be irresponsible to ignore the potential health risks.”

Up until now, government advice, dating back to 1998, claims 90g as a healthy daily portion of red meat. On average, most UK consumers eat around 70g a day.

The government report follows on from a publication by the World Cancer Research Fund, which in 2007 recommended a weekly red meat limit of 500g and urged consumer to cut out all processed meat.

This report prompted the Department of Health to as the SACN to review dietary advice on meat consumption as a source of iron.

A draft report was published in June 2009, and claimed that lower consumption of red and processed meat could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

The final version of the report, entitled “Iron and Health” will be published later this week.