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AMI defends importance of poultry in diet

AMI defended the importance of meat and poultry in the diet in comments to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The comments were given in response to the recent release of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Technical Report.

AMI Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren, Ph.D., noted in her testimony that meat and poultry is allocated a relatively small part of the pyramid, yet the benefits from its share of the pyramid are significant.

Booren pointed out that in addition to protein, meat and poultry also are important and rich sources of micronutrients such as iron, selenium, Vitamins A, B12, and folic acid. These nutrients are not present in plant foods or, if they are, they have low bioavailibity. Supplementation, while useful, does not completely address issues of bioavailability.

Also significant was the discussion during the May 2010 meeting of Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Committee) that the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts food group is currently consumed at or less than the current  recommended amount. This conclusion likely is a surprise to many who are under the mistaken impression that Americans over-eat meat and poultry products, Booren said.

“As you develop the Dietary Guidelines, we urge you to word the recommendation in such a way that does not lead consumers to reduce their meat, poultry, and beans consumption. Language in the technical report recommending that consumers ‘moderate’ their meat and poultry consumption may be perceived as advice to ‘reduce’ their consumption, which could have unintended consequences by creating nutritional deficiencies, according to Booren.

Sodium levels in processed poultry

Booren addressed some sections of the report that reveal a strong bias against processed meats, largely due to concerns about sodium levels in some products.

According to Booren, the industry is actively involved in efforts to reduce sodium in its products with over 50% of the processed meat and poultry market undergoing recent sodium reduction reformulation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans was first released in 1980 and is the basis for federal nutrition policy and education. The Dietary Guidelines Committee’s technical report will serve as the basis for a revision of these guidelines. HHS and USDA are expected to publish their revisions later in 2010.

To view Booren’s comments, click here.

Source: American Meat Institute

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