NCBA’s Shalene McNeill Believes Beef Can Fill the Gaps in Dietary Shortfalls for Americans

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Dr. Shalene McNeill about using beef to fulfill the dietary needs of Americans.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is visiting with the Executive Director of Nutrition Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Dr. Shalene McNeill, and talking about advocating for beef in the dietary guidelines for 2025.

“Every five years, this process starts over, and it starts with a group of scientists that are nominated and convened to evaluate the research available at the time, to look at the issues that are facing America with regards to nutrition at the time, and then those scientists write a scientific report that is used to inform what becomes our dietary guidelines for Americans,” McNeill said.

20 scientists will serve on the dietary guidelines committee, McNeill said, and those selected come from diverse backgrounds with experience in food security, hunger, and more.

“Many Americans maybe fall short on getting adequate nutrition and so that might be more of a focus than it has in the past, and I think that will be a great opportunity for beef farmers and ranchers, because beef can help deliver those key nutrients that we need,” McNeill said. “If you have got a shortage of nutrients, you need high nutrient-dense foods like beef to help fill those gaps.”

There is a lot of conversation going around relating to increasing access to affordable food for all people, McNeill said, and the term “food dignity” is part of that discussion.

“We want to make sure that regardless of your income level, regardless of your access and your means, you can reach out and have a nourishing meal in whatever part of America you are living,” McNeill said. “Many health professionals are beginning to talk about the dignity that comes with the ability to nourish yourself.”

Through Covid, McNeill said many have realized that although the food supply chain is great, there are still gaps. When things get tight, McNeill said many Americans do not have the means to put a nutritious meal together.

“Maybe there was a loss of dignity associated with not being able to do that, so we need to be able to pay attention to that, and that is an important part of the nutrition conversation happening today,” McNeill said.

While many of the past dietary guidelines have focused on chronic disease, McNeill said, she would like to see these next guidelines to step back and focus on helping ensure everyone has access to more balanced meals to begin with.

“I think we have got a little too focused on all these sort-of specialty areas of nutrition, and we need to get back to the basics kind of as well,” McNeill said.

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