Nichola Ludlam-Raine, a member of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) Food Advisory Board and a specialist registered dietitian and nutritionist, said that red meat and poultry manufacturers were “on the defensive” when they could be taking the lead in educating customers and consumers.
“They are not wanting to explain, for example, that pork is red meat and not wanting to say what the guidelines are. More information is out there and manufacturers should not be scared of that information,” she said.
“Manufacturers should be reaching out to registered dieticians and nutritionists, along with a PR company, to get the messaging out there.”
She urged more food manufacturers to adopt the traffic light labelling system. While many of the big brands had adopted this, “at the moment this is not mandatory”, she added.
She called on manufacturers to consider clearer labelling on red meat products, featuring advice on Government guidelines, more nutritional information, portion sizes, frequency and healthy recipes, as well pushing the sustainable and ethical angle.
“It would be really responsible for manufacturers to say this (red meat) can be consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Give the people that are trying to eat healthier permission to eat it,” she added.
She said that one of the issues around the misinformation on red meat had been the “scaremongering” press reports by many of the tabloids. She accused them of “demonising” certain foods such as red meat, fat and sugar, which she said could all be eaten as part of a balanced diet.
“The tabloids love a good headline and the problem is that they blow up small, often observational studies and need to explain that it is a really small study or it doesn’t show cause and effect,” she said.
“I think more can be done, because consumers are becoming more aware and a lot of them are becoming scared of eating red meat. This is such a shame because we know that a lot of the population, such as teenage girls, really need that source of iron.”