By Iowa Cattlemen’s Association
AMES, Iowa — The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), reaffirm the role of lean beef in a healthy diet and confirm that Americans are, on average, consuming lean meat in daily amounts that are consistent with the recommendations for protein foods. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association commends HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for ensuring the final recommendations were based on the latest nutrition evidence available.
In December 2014, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee made the unprecedented move of striking “lean meat” from the pattern associated with a healthy diet. This was a major departure, not only from the past guidelines, but from more than 30 years of nutritionally-accepted science and peer-reviewed studies.
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association worked diligently to encourage the committee to consider the latest nutrition science, which shows that lean beef has positive benefits in the diet.
“We felt strongly that the initial recommendations provided by the science advisory committee disparaged the products of hardworking Iowa cattle producers who work each and every day to provide a nutritious and healthful beef product for consumers,” said Justine Stevenson, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association director of government relations. “The fact that the advisory committee ignored scientific evidence which reveals that beef consumption is associated with improved overall nutrient intake, overall diet quality and positive health outcomes led us to encourage comments to the HHS and USDA urging them to re-evaluate their recommendations.”
In addition to submitting comments, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association also led advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., including the testimony of Rochelle Gilman, a corporate dietician with Hy-Vee and a cattle producer from Stuart. Gilman expressed her opinion at an advisory committee hearing.
 “My concern is that the way the committee defines healthy dietary patterns overgeneralizes complete food categories,” Gilman said. “Rather than encourage lean red meat in a healthy dietary pattern, as we have always done, the committee recommends reducing the category of ‘red and processed meat.’ As a retail RD, I see first-hand the real need for positive messages that help people learn how to eat healthy.”
Updated every five years, the Dietary Guidelines serves as the foundation for federal nutrition policy and shapes the recommendations found on USDA’s MyPlate. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is pleased that the committee based the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines on sound science, which includes lean beef as a part of a healthy diet.
“Iowa’s cattlemen appreciate that the final guidelines are based on the latest nutrition evidence and recognize that lean beef fits into a healthy lifestyle,” Stevenson said.
There are currently 38 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean, including some of America’s favorite cuts like sirloin steak and 95 percent lean ground beef. Lean beef is a wholesome, nutrient-rich food that provides many essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins, with fewer calories than many plant-based sources of protein.
 


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