SACN red meat intake report

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Mon Feb 28 19:49:51 GMT 2011

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Pity this report doesn't look at the non-meat sources of iron in more detail 
- -- the assumption seems to be that there is no alternative to meat to obtain 
either iron or protein.

Even so, placing a limit of 70g/day on meat intake will worry the hell out of 
the mean industry. 40% of men and 10% of women in the UK eat more than 
90g/day, and heeding this message would hit UK agriculture, which specialises 
primarily in meat and cereals (a large proportion of UK cereals also go into 
animal feed), causing the industry to contract or otherwise find some other 
commodity to specialise in.

You can download the SACN report at


SACN Iron and Health Report

25th February 2010

In 1998, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA), 
in their report, Nutritional Aspects of the Development of Cancer, recommended 
that high consumers of red and processed meat should consider reducing their 
intakes because of possible links with a risk of colorectal cancer. However, 
since red and processed meat are sources of iron in the UK diet, COMA 
recommended that the possible adverse nutritional implications of a reduction 
in red and processed meat intakes should be assessed. The present report has 
been prepared in response to COMA’s recommendation.

The report considers the potential adverse effects of both low iron intake and 
excess.  As well as considering the implications of a reduction in meat 
consumption on the iron status of the UK population, the report also examines 
associations between red and processed meat and cancer risk.

The main recommendations of the report are:

    * While most people in the UK are iron replete, health professionals need 
to be alert to increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia in toddlers, girls and 
women of reproductive age (particularly those from low income groups) and some 
adults aged over 65 years.  Those with symptoms suggesting iron deficiency 
anaemia should receive appropriate clinical assessment and advice, including 
dietary advice on how to increase their iron intakes and to consider use of 
iron supplements if required.

    * A healthy balanced diet, which includes a variety of foods containing 
iron, will help people achieve adequate iron status.  Such an approach is more 
important than consuming iron-rich foods at the same time as foods/drinks that 
enhance iron absorption (e.g., fruit juice, meat) or not consuming iron rich 
foods with those that inhibit iron absorption (e.g., tea, coffee, milk).
    * Adults with relatively high intakes of red and processed meat (around 90 
g/day or more) should consider reducing their intakes.  A reduction to the UK 
population average for adult consumers (70 g/day cooked weight) would have 
little impact on the proportion of the adult population with low iron intakes.

- -- 


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