The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is driving a new online campaign to combat initial recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that do not include lean meat.
Beef producers and others are asked to engage with the campaign by posting pictures online of meals with beef using #BeefsOnMyPlate.
The advisory committee's recommendations were released in late February. They are used to inform the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which later is used in part to determine federal recommendations for school lunches and other nutrition policies, as well as government education and outreach regarding nutrition.
The report specifically suggested a healthy diet should be "higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and 116 nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar- sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains" though a footnote did indicate that lean meat "can be part of a healthy dietary pattern."
Shalene McNeill, registered dietitian and nutrition scientist with NCBA, suggested beef's versatility allows it to fit into many diets.
"We have a lot of sound evidence out there showing lean beef consumption contributes zinc, iron, protein and B-vitamins, which helps keep you satisfied, helps manage your weight, and can fuel a healthy and active lifestyle," McNeill said.
NCBA said lean beef is a calorie-saving option; For about 150 calories, a 3-oz serving of lean beef provides about the same amount of protein as three servings – or one and half cups – of cooked black beans with 341 calories.
Philip Ellis, president of the NCBA, said the campaign is a great opportunity to showcase how beef fits in a healthy and calorie-conscious diet and encourage USDA and Health and Human Services officials to make sure lean beef is not just a footnote in the guidelines.
"It's unfortunate that the Advisory Committee failed to review all the science that undoubtedly shows the value of lean meat in the healthy diet," said Ellis. "But the [USDA and HHS] Secretaries have the opportunity to pick up where the Committee fell short and finish the scientific review of red meat's role in a healthy diet to re-instate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommendation on lean meat."
The scientific evidence used to develop the committee's recommendations will be reviewed, along with public comment before the recommendations are approved. The public comment period will be open until May 8, 2015.