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Thursday, March 5, 1998 Published at 18:21 GMT


Red meat back on the menu
image: [ Take Two: Most people do NOT need to cut back on read meat. ]
Take Two: Most people do NOT need to cut back on read meat.

The advice on how much red meat can be eaten in a healthy diet has been changed.

Last September the Department of Health said the average consumption of red meat should fall in order to reduce the risk of cancer.

Shadow Health Secretary John Maples says the changing advice is unfair on the public (2' 45")
But now it says most people do not need to cut back.

New recommendations say that those who eat the average amount of 90 grams a day (8-10 portions a week) do not need to change.

The recommendations are based on a report prepared last September by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA), but put on hold for six months.

The report was the result of a two year study investigating the link between diet and cancer.

Behind the apparent U-turn is a disagreement between members of COMA.

Professor Philip James, a member of the committee, and architect of the new Food Standards Agency, believed the committee was being railroaded into weak advice by the meat industry.

He wanted to see guidelines similar to those from the World Cancer Research Fund on which he also sits, which advocated consumption of less than 80 grams of red meat a day.

[ image: Plenty of veg also recommended.]
Plenty of veg also recommended.
But members of the committee, who were absent when the recommendations were made in September, disagreed.

The Department of Health says that when the Health Secretary Frank Dobson realised not all members of COMA had been consulted, he decided to defer the publication of the report.

A compromise was eventually struck that resulted in the new guidelines.

The report also recommends that people increase their fibre consumption, eating about five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

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