A nutrition specialist representing the National Cattlemen's Beef Association this week told an advisory panel reviewing U.S. dietary guidelines that beef producers have responded to consumer demand for leaner products.
"Farmers and ranchers have responded to dietary guidance by supporting research and education to maximize the availability of lean beef," Clara Lau, Ph.D , NCBA's director of nutrition research, said.
The advisory panel holds public meetings every five years to hear testimony regarding potential changes to the dietary guidelines. New guidelines will be released in 2015.
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, 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," she said.
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," she concluded.
Source: Beef Checkoff