Misleading information adds to consumer dietary scares

Consumer skepticism about dietary advice increases daily. Certainly, advice about what to eat or not to eat should be given with extreme care.

Instead, conflicting information about diet and health appears in the news media every week?sometimes every day. With the same regularity as turning over a new leaf on the calendar, it seems that the eating of red meat or too much meat is linked with obesity, cancer or some other calamity.

Because of such misleading information, scare tactics, hype in the headlines, television and social media along with conflicting information about diet and health, there is a risk of consumer confusion and uncertainty. Overwhelming scientific evidence points to a diet of moderation and variety. That includes beef, pork, lamb, turkey?all kinds of meat.

Moderation and variety?a balanced diet includes meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, breads and dairy products. The key is not to overdo any one of these.

One reason some Americans may be victims of health concerns is not because of the red meat they eat but rather the lack of vegetables, fruits and whole grains in their diet. It is essential to consume all of these food groups.

Individuals with specific health concerns that require dietary modification should be diagnosed and have diets prescribed by a physician who knows a patient?s history and concerns.

Few people today would disagree with dietary guidelines that recommend cutting back on fat, sodium and sugar. This is sound advice.

When it comes to fat intake today, informed consumers remove most of the visible fat. They trim it off and throw it away.

America?s cattle producers have, and continually are listening to the comments and wishes of consumers for low-fat content beef. Today, they are producing leaner cattle with less trimmable fat. This has occurred through advances in genetics, feeding and management practices.

To help inform consumers about healthy and helpful eating guidelines, livestock commodity organizations regularly provide information on the nutritional value of meat as part of a healthful diet. Research projects on their products are contracted with qualified academic institutions, private research or meat industry labs. Accuracy and credibility are, and will continue to be, reviewed by scientific specialists.

Examining the correlation of diet and different diseases remains an ongoing project. Some of the areas of specific concern include the correlation of diet and cancer, and the correlation between oxidation and heart disease.

The cattle and pork industries continually strive to listen to concerns of consumers and their changing, ever-healthier lifestyles. The livestock industry is working every day to produce leaner, healthier meat products to satisfy today?s market. It has learned to respond with products that meet new consumer desires.

Livestock producers also recognize the need to conduct research that provides data on food nutrition and safety. Consumers are hungry for new dietary products, but they also have a ravenous appetite for information supported by facts and science?not myths and misconceptions.

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John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. He was orn and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas.

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