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The Scottish red meat industry’s important role as a model of sustainable, nutritious food production on the global stage has been emphasised by Kate Rowell, Chair of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
 
Mrs Rowell pointed out that the EAT Lancet Commission report published today (17 January 2019) acknowledges that meat is an important part of a healthy balanced diet, providing vital nutrients. However, she expressed concern that the report’s suggested global intake of red meat per day is well below current UK NHS guidelines of 70g per day or 500g per week.
 
“The fact is our red meat industry has an important role to play in achieving the aim of providing healthy food for the world’s population by 2050. 
 
“Scotland has a very strong message to convey given our industry produces quality beef and lamb from the grass and rough grazing which make up around 80% of Scotland’s agricultural land and could not be used for cereal, fruit or vegetable production.”
 
Mrs Rowell also emphasised the difference in Scotland’s production systems to others in different parts of the world, for example, the role of Scotland’s grassland as a carbon sink and the role of grazing animals in providing habitats for wildlife and maintaining the landscape.
 
“It’s important to put the emissions generated by red meat production into context and ensure that people are fully informed about the facts on our industry. 
 
“The prevailing media coverage of the vegan agenda, despite the fact that 95% of people choose to have meat in their diets, means there is a risk of disproportionate responsibility for emissions being placed on animal-based foods. Focussing on this one area diverts attention from more damaging environmental factors, for example transportation and carbon-based energy.”
 
Mrs Rowell added there is real danger of public confusion on red meat’s role in a healthy diet saying that public health could be affected as people could miss out on vital nutrients such as zinc and iron which are provided by red meat. And she flagged that added to this confusion is the fact that many of the meat-free alternatives appearing on the shelves are highly processed and often very high in salt.
 
She also highlighted the priority placed by the Scottish red meat industry on animal welfare which is a key aspect of the quality assurance schemes at the heart of the industry.