Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 10/16/2019

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The headline above is from a story in The New York Times. There’ll be more about it below.

It seems that every week there’s a new study telling us to eat (or drink) more of “this or that” because it will be good for our health. We find reporting about supporting research from qualified scientists or health professionals. 

New studies come from a variety of media alternatives including television, online, print and, of course, social media. Quite often, the news is forwarded to us from people we know who made the discovery before we did.

Among my favorites were numerous reports and studies telling us that a “glass, or two, of wine every day is beneficial to a healthy diet and lifestyle.” I received those news stories as positives.

There are also frequent news stories describing a completely opposite position. “Do not eat (or drink) more of ‘this or that’ because it will be bad for our health.” These reports are from different groups of qualified researchers or health professionals.

These contradictory reports confuse almost everyone. Since most of us are not experts, how do we make sense of these clashing opinions?

Among the ingredients and specific foods and beverages in these conflicting studies are important product categories we sell. Coffee. Juices. Anything with added sugar. It would be easy to go on and on, but we’ll stop the list here.

Now let’s get to meat -- red meat, specifically. Here is a food group where we’ve seen almost universal agreement from “experts” in recent years. Food scientists, nutritionists, health researchers and (probably our own) medical doctors have “warned” us to limit, if not eliminate, red meat in our diets.

In The New York Times, we came upon this news: “Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.” This was interesting for me. After all, a good steak and a glass of a nice red wine make for a very enjoyable meal. Add in barbecue beef brisket or ribs (pork or beef) from one of the many exceptional BBQ joints here in Texas (and in other states across the country). Please don’t turn me in to my doctor or my nutritionist.

There were some interesting facts reported: “…an international collaboration of researchers produced a series of analyses concluding that the advice (to eat less red meat), a bedrock of almost all dietary guidelines, is not backed by good scientific evidence.” And: “…(this) raise(s) uncomfortable questions about dietary advice and nutritional research, and what sort of standards these studies should be held to.”

Do we eat “too much” red meat? “…(T)he average American eats about 4½ servings of red meat a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 10% of the population eats at least two servings a day.”

There was also a related story: “That Perplexing Red Meat Controversy: 5 Things to Know.” As expected, both articles reported that there were reactions and prompt responses from highly credible medical and research organizations, arguing against this new report. Many experts are holding fast to their recommendations about eating less red meat. Specifically: “The American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, among others, immediately released statements reiterating their advice to eat less red meat for better health.”

Another very important observation in the article is: “We’re all going to have to live with some uncertainty about what to eat.” This uncertainty will continue for all of us -- personally, for our own health, and in our businesses as we determine how many “red meat” food SKUs to offer.

The nutritional issues concerning red meat are not the only controversies. Don’t forget, by the way, there are environmental concerns about meat consumption. The following is reported here – not as my opinion. Some research indicates that “too large a share” of vegetable crops is for animal feed. And cattle (whether for dairy or beef sourcing) are contributing to methane gas emissions (as much as 40% worldwide) according to some reports.

Stay up to date on these conflicting research studies relating to the products we are selling. When your clients approach you with questions based on the latest news, you want to respond with facts not feelings. Ask your product suppliers for supporting documentation.

If you want to sell more stuff, be sure that you are ready to deal with “facts” concerning the products and ingredients we are offering -- coffee, red meat, sugars and so much more.

PAUL SCHLOSSBERG
Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached by emailing to Paul@DFWConsulting.net, calling him at (972) 877-2972. The company is online at www.DFWConsulting.net