THE Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) has welcomed the latest publication of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS).
The survey captures nationally representative data on food consumption, with the most recent report bringing into focus the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on diet and physical activity of people in the UK.
Findings in the report outline that despite the changing societal landscape in Northern Ireland consumption of red and processed meats remains steady.
The report notes that there were no significant differences in mean consumption of total meat between previous assessments and this study, across all ages and genders.
In addition, red and processed meat consumption was within the recommended nutrient intake (70g per day) for adults, with a mean consumption of 66g per day for men aged 19 to 94 years.
Describing this as a positive reflection of consumers unwavering desire to incorporate red meat into their diets, LMC Marketing and Communications Manager Lauren Patterson said: “During the pandemic consumers became increasingly focussed on the benefits of natural, local produce for their health and immunity.
“The correlation between red meat, zinc and immune functioning is scientifically proven and it is encouraging to see consumers actioning this.
“The statistics published in this report clearly show consumers appreciation for good honest food, especially during a pandemic, and reinforces the fact that red meat plays an important role as part of a healthy balanced diet.
“It is also pleasing to see that red meat consumption in the UK is within the recommended guidelines, and we can focus on encouraging consumers to continue choosing Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef and lamb as a world class product.
“There are, of course, demographics within our population who have concerningly low intakes and we will continue to voice the important contribution beef and lamb makes to our wellbeing at all ages.”
When it comes to micronutrients, the NDNS report returned a mixed picture.
Mean iron intakes from food in this study were below the reference nutrient intake for two female age groups.
Lauren continued: “Iron intake in girls aged 11-18 years old and women aged 19-64 years old was concerningly low.
“Young girls are only getting 54 per cent of the reference nutrient intake which could be a huge contributing factor for the increasing rates of diagnosed Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA) in the United Kingdom.
“IDA is a disease referring to a deficiency in quality or quantity of haemoglobin, which is required for transport of oxygen throughout the body.
“IDA can have long term detrimental impacts on learning and development which is why it is hugely important that this age group are increasing their consumption of red meat which is a rich source of haem iron.
“Red meat, amongst other animal proteins, is a good source of many other micronutrients, including zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, magnesium and potassium which are just not available in alternative proteins.
“As a food source, Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured (NIFQA) beef and lamb has a rich nutrient profile which is available in its most absorbable form, making it an essential part of our diets.
“LMC is widely recognised as a body that is totally independent and impartial when it comes to giving dietary advice on beef and lamb.
“The commission continues to lead discussion on the nutritional value of NIFQA produce.
“Promotional work is ongoing to ensure that consumers are confident in purchasing and cooking a variety of meat cuts.
“From previous research we know provenance and sustainability are key factors of consideration for conscious consumers.
“NIFQA beef and lamb are farmed with the environment in mind.
“When consumers purchase NIFQA meat they not only support local farmers but also receive an independent guarantee of quality world class produce, certified against standards for animal welfare, sustainable production and full traceability from farm to fork.”
Covid-19 brought about many lifestyle changes, with the NDNS report highlighting that since the start of the pandemic 59 per cent of households reported that they had cooked at home more.
Lauren noted: “The pandemic encouraged a shift in consumer behaviour and saw more people experimenting and learning new skills.
“Interest in food and consumer confidence in NIFQA beef and lamb is a positive sign for our industry.”
In January LMC relaunched its high-profile advertising campaign ‘Good Honest Food’ to inform consumers of the nutritional benefits of NIFQA beef and lamb.
The campaign also hones in on how NI farmers care for the environment and the importance of looking for the NIFQA logo.
“As part of the Good Honest Food campaign, LMC provides scientific facts and encourages consumers to make informed decisions.
“The campaign also shows the versatility of NIFQA beef and lamb and how it can be used in a range of dishes, from everyday meals to special occasions.
“We are proud that more people are tasting our world class NIFQA beef and lamb, with feedback overwhelmingly positive.”
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.