The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee held their second public meeting today to hear testimony regarding potential changes. Director of Nutrition Research at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program, Clara Lau, Ph.D, spoke to the importance of lean beef in healthy diets.
Lau explained as the guidelines have changed over time, so has the beef industry. In 1980 when the first edition of the dietary guidelines was published, it was common to see one-half of an inch of fat trim on beef in the grocery store meat case. Now, retail beef cuts are virtually void of external fat, averaging less than one-tenth of an inch, according to Lau.
"Farmers and ranchers have responded to dietary guidance by supporting research and education to maximize the availability of lean beef," Lau said. "The industry has selected for leaner cattle, trimmed excessive fat, and encouraged people to choose appropriate portions of lean beef more often. We listened, we changed, and we wanted you to know about it."
Lau also addressed the lag in the USDA Nutrient Database to reflect lean beef changes, affecting the accuracy of data used in some observational studies.
"The broad category of red meat used in large observational studies, like the Nurses' Health Study, does not reflect the leaner supply of beef," Lau said. "So, the lean beef people are actually consuming is not used when comparing beef consumption with health outcomes. Therefore, these comparisons fall short in assessing lean beef as part of a healthful dietary pattern."
The beef checkoff submitted written comments prior to this meeting, and will continue to be engaged as the 2015 dietary guidelines discussion continues.
This meeting was originally scheduled for Oct. 3-4, 2013, but was postponed due to the government shutdown.
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