Beef Checkoff Works to Keep Beef in the Conversation for Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Dr. Shalene McNeill about dietary guidelines.

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, about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Currently, the U.S. is under the dietary guidelines that came out in 2020 and will expire in 2025. The next set of Dietary Guidelines are now being formulated by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee- who hope to issue updated Guidelines for 2025 -2030 by the end of 2024.

The dietary guidelines have been around since 1980, McNeill said, and she has been working with the Beef Checkoff on those guidelines since around 2000.

“These dietary guidelines shape how we think about what we are eating for healthy diets,” McNeill said. “As a registered dietitian, we really look to the dietary guidelines to make recommendations to people, so they are really important.”

One of the reasons why the Beef Checkoff funds nutrition research is to make sure there is scientific evidence of the nutrients of beef when these national guidelines for health are written.

“We know that in the 1970s and early 80s, we started seeing that dietary guidelines told us to eat less red meat,” McNeill said. “We have kind of been in an uphill battle over the years to show research and to document how eating beef and other proteins as part of a healthy balanced diet is actually good for health. I think we are finally at a point where we are beginning to see that research paying off, and we are seeing consumers’ mindsets change.”

Within the last few editions of the dietary guidelines, McNeill said the guidelines have started to recommend iron-rich foods as early as six months of age.

“There are really critical benefits for beef eating at every life stage, and we want to make sure that as this committee is meeting and looking at the research, that they are taking all of the evidence that is available on the benefits of meat eating and beef eating into their consideration as they write these future guidelines,” McNeill said.

The new guidelines that came out in 2020 paid special attention to how we are feeding children and infants and called attention to the need for iron.

“If babies aren’t getting adequate iron starting at that early age, that can have irreversible life effects,” McNeill said.  

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR at the top of the story for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

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