The beef industry found a lot to love in the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Industry leaders, including top agricultural officials in Nebraska and Iowa, had been worried because a government advisory panel said last spring that the guidelines should recommend lower consumption of red meat.
But while the final guidelines recommend limiting caloric intake from saturated fat, such as that found in red meat and other foods, they include lean meats as one of a variety of protein foods found in a healthy eating pattern.
Nebraska Agriculture Department Director Greg Ibach said the report acknowledges scientific research that lean meat can be part of a healthy diet.
In Nebraska, a top beef state, "we are beneficiaries of (consumers) knowing that," he said.
Beef industry officials added Thursday that the guidelines confirm that most Americans are consuming meat within recommended amounts. Teenage boys and adult men, though, are eating more than the recommended amount and should cut back, the report says. The report also says processed meats should be eaten only within recommended limits for sodium, fat, sugar and calories.
Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation President Steve Nelson said the guidelines also address the agriculture industry's concerns about a push to cut meat from dietary recommendations because of environmental concerns.
"The new guidelines place a heavy focus on individual eating patterns and continue to affirm that meat and poultry products are important in helping individuals meet their daily and weekly protein needs," he said.
Some environmental and health organizations said the report didn't go far enough.
The American Cancer Society's advocacy arm said the guidelines should have recommended eating less red and processed meat, given the World Health Organization's October classification of processed meat as a carcinogen and of red meat as a probable carcinogen. The meat industry disputed that finding and pointed out that any increased risk is a relatively small one.
"These guidelines miss a critical and significant opportunity to reduce suffering and death from cancer," said Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society.
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