The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in a closed-door meeting last month approved removal of lean meat from proposed healthy diet recommendations, concerning the North American Meat Institute, which said the move was "arbitrary and capricious."
The advisory group is charged with revising Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. New guidelines will be released this year.
NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter said the Dec. 15 change "fails to recognize the nutritional value lean meat offers and is ignoring the scientific evidence supporting its inclusion in the American diet."
NAMI noted that data from a previous committee meeting demonstrated "strong and consistent" evidence that red and processed meat consumption is part of healthy dietary patterns.
NAMI said it supports nutritional guidance that encourages the consumption of nutrient dense foods, which includes meat and poultry, and moves away from consumption of energy dense foods.
"This guidance would be more helpful to the average American rather than guidance that ignores the role lean meat contributes to the diet because it would promote energy balance and healthier diets for Americans," NAMI said.
In addition, the Institute said dietary guidance should be practical, affordable, attainable and positive and should encourage Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet while respecting cultural forces, food preferences, budgets, availability and habits.
NAMI charges that the advisory committee wrongly assumed if production animal agriculture were eliminated, the food supply as a whole would be more sustainable.
Instead, it points out a November 2014 analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that suggests when fruits and vegetables were substituted for meat there was either no change or even an increase in greenhouse gas emissions because of the amount of fruits and vegetables required to maintain caloric content is so high.