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General News    H3'ed 1/27/18

Have You Fallen For Any of these Meat Industry Myths?

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Medical associations have no doubts about the risks of eating meat. The American Cancer Society says "because of a wealth of studies linking colon cancer to diets high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (hot dogs, bologna, etc.), the Society encourages people to eat more vegetables and fish and less red and processed meats." The American Heart Association says "eat more chicken, fish and beans," "processed red meat [is] linked to higher risk of heart failure, death," and "choosing healthier protein-rich foods instead of red and processed meat." But just because meat is about as good for you as cigarettes doesn't mean the meat industry is conceding anything. Here are its rebuttals about meat's deleterious effects on health.

Huge, GMO-linked dairies supply some of Ben & Jerry's products
Huge, GMO-linked dairies supply some of Ben & Jerry's products
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1. No Science Links Red Meat To Cancer, Stroke and Heart Attacks

This meat industry contention is like Big Tobacco maintaining that cigarettes were safe until the bitter end. But there is plenty of science about meat's negative health effects in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The first search term under "red meat" on the website is "cancer" where 1,065 research entries are found. The third search term is for "colorectal" cancer where there are 452 research entries. Other top search choices include cardiovascular disease, heart, breast cancer, diabetes and "red meat consumption and mortality." No search term suggestions include "health," "protein," or "nutrients."

2. Meat Today Is "Leaner" Than It Used To Be--And Better For You.

Meat producers try to downplay how much saturated fat is in red meat because of its links to cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. "Today's beef supply is leaner than ever before with more than 30 cuts of beef recognized as lean by the government's own standards," boasts a meat industry press release. "The fat content of lean red meat has reduced substantially over the past few decades," agrees another meat source. "A change in farming methods and butchery techniques now means that lean beef contains as little as 5% fat, lean pork 4% fat and lean lamb 8% fat." Who remembers when Big Tobacco tried the same ruse with low tar cigarettes?

3. Meat Is An Ideal Protein Because It Is "Nutrient Dense"

Meat's biggest virtue says the meat industry is it is "nutrient dense"--producing "satiety" that other foods may lack which can even make people thin. "For long-term weight loss, improvements in satiety levels -- a measure of the state of fullness between meals -- have been demonstrated in people who opt for protein-rich foods like lean red meat as part of a reduced calorie, moderate fat diet," says a red meat website. "Processed meats, even consumed twice daily for a week, allow Americans to stay within daily calorie goals," asserts another site. Sounds good until you view the bodies of heavy meat eater which are also...dense.

4. The Salt In Meat Is Good For You!

NAMI admits that salt "plays a critical role in the production of meat products" especially processed meat. But rather than acknowledge the role of excessive salt in high blood pressure, heart attack and failure, stroke and damage to the kidneys and blood vessels NAMI says salt is a good thing. Salt "is essential for human health and development, particularly in regulating the body's electrolyte balance, preventing dehydration, and maintaining many of the body's cellular functions." It "improves the flavor, texture, and safety of meat, especially processed," says the meat industry. Salt hydrates "muscle proteins" and "allows a gel structure to form during cooking."

5. Healthy Diets Are Elite

"Pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right and for the 95 percent of Americans who enjoy meat and poultry, their food traditions are integral parts of their lives and their happiness and should not be impinged upon by nutrition despots who seek to impose their personal choices on others." So reads a 2015 petition to government officials called Hands Off My Hot Dog which attacks "elite academics." In truth, the poor are the biggest sufferers from poor eating, suffering higher levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease from cheap meat-based fast food.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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