For those of us who enjoy eating meat, we can be safe in the knowledge that we can continue to do this as part of a healthy balanced diet. UK government guidelines suggest that we can eat up to 70g of cooked red meat per person per day. Remember this doesn’t mean you have to eat meat every day, but you perhaps will have a nice Shepherd’s pie one day, a pork loin with some seasonal veg another day and perhaps that treat of a steak at the weekend – all still within your daily or rather weekly recommended intake (500g cooked meat per week).
Just remember when you do make it, make it Scotch.
Check out this little video that clarifies some of those misconceptions about meat in the diet.
Beef, Lamb and Pork are full of protein and a range of other essential nutrients, necessary for good health and wellbeing. Just like anything else, no one food provides everything we need, but we can be confident in the fact that red meat is a great way of getting all our essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) into our diet.
Beef is a source of iron, specifically haem iron, which is more easily absorbed than non-haem iron from plant-based foods. Iron helps form healthy blood cells, and transports oxygen around our bodies.
Red meat is a rich source of vitamin B12 which is a building block of red blood cells and helps to fight fatigue. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, and those following a meat free diet would need to take supplements to fortify their diet with Vitamin B12.
Advancements in farming methods and butchery techniques have also meant that the fat content of red meat has also reduced over the years. In fact, some cuts of pork can contain less fat than chicken, so it is a useful alternative to help in encouraging a varied diet.
The guide below shows which nutrients are found in which meat, from each animal.
It’s fair to say red meat has been disproportionately demonised by the reports like EAT Lancet and IARC. However, the claims they make about the dangers of red meat are not as scientifically robust as media often suggest. No one food group causes cancer and the studies reporting findings are based on observational studies, not cause-and-effect experiments.
When it comes to lean red meat, there is no evidence showing any causal relationship with the initiation of cancers. Avoiding red meat in the diet is not a protective strategy against cancer, as results from many studies show an extremely weak association between high red meat consumption and increased cancer risk. There is also evidence from large European studies which illustrate that the risk of bowel and colorectal cancer is the same, whether you eat meat or follow a vegetarian diet. Additional research has demonstrated no association between red meat intake and risk of other types of cancer including prostate and breast cancer.
Government experts are clear how much red meat we can eat in the UK, which is up to 70g cooked red meat per person per day. In fact, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows the UK average intake is 65g, of which just over 15g is processed meat, so most people in fact do not need to reduce their red meat consumption to reduce health risks. Those eating over 90g per day are encouraged to bring their intake to within the recommended 70g pppd.
With regard to processed meat, it is also important to consider the risk in relative terms. For example, while the IARC report finds both cigarettes and processed meat to be ‘carcinogenic’, the statistics actually find that smoking 30 cigarettes per day increases risk of cancer 298 times more severely than eating 50g of processed meat per day does. Again 50g of processed meat per day is well over the national average intake of processed meats (approx. 15g per day).
Also, claims linking processed meat to cancer, and other health risks, are predicated on the fact that nitrates, (which can be carcinogenic in large quantities over prolonged periods of exposure) are often used as a preservative in the production of processed meats. In reality, most sausages and burgers produced in the UK contain sulphates, rather than nitrates, for preservation. SACN and EFSA have clearly stated that the sulphite and sulphate preservatives typically used in commercially-produced sausages and burgers are not carcinogenic.
The science of food is always interesting, food is a science. Do you know the chemical reaction that occurs during the cooking of meat? It’s called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction, often described as the “browning” reaction involves amino acids and simple sugars, but it’s far from simple and should really be called the “flavour” reaction because of the stimulating flavours and aromas that are created.
To find out more about this reaction, check out our video we worked on with FDF Scotland.
You can also buy Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork at independent butchers.
If you’re not in the mood for cooking, Scotch Beef PGI is also served at many quality restaurants. Find one near you at our sister site below.