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 beef industry priorities in the next 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, that is aiming to issue updated Guidelines for 2025 -2030 by the end of 2024.
The Beef Checkoff, McNeill said, was one of 83 organizations and individuals that had the chance to give thoughts during public commentary.
“We really wanted to focus on the critical role that beef plays and its nutrients play at each life stage, “McNeill said. “Beef has a special package of nutrients- iron, zinc, and B vitamins. As we talk about, these are not only needed in infancy, but they are also needed during adolescence, during adulthood, pregnancy, and aging.”
As Americans age over time, McNeill said gaps have begun to emerge that beef can help fill.
“We are starting to see widening rates of iron deficiency,” McNeill said. “That is because people have cut back on their beef intake, so we are seeing those consequences, and we wanted to make sure the committee had that research in front of them…”
Checkoff members also reminded the dietary guidelines committee that, based on current evidence, plant-based proteins are not a substitute for the real thing.
“You just don’t get the same nutrient mix, the body does not metabolize them the same way, they are not equivalent, so we want to really reinforce that it is fine if you want to increase fruits and vegetables and plant proteins, but they are not a substitute for beef proteins,” McNeill said.
McNeill said it is expected that around October of 2024, the scientific committee will turn over their recommendations to the USDA and the Health and Human Services, so they can begin writing the dietary guidelines. If the timeline goes as projected, McNeill said those guidelines will be available to the public in January of 2025.
“This is a very active phase for us at the Beef Checkoff because we want to make sure all of those research dollars that beef producers are investing in are getting into the hands of these scientists as they are making those recommendations,” McNeill said.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the foundation for all federal feeding policies, McNeill said, so if it is not in the dietary guidelines, it is not going to be on the school lunch menu.
“If it is not on the dietary guidelines, it is not going to be what our military is being served, so they have a very influential role in the way we think about nutrition and health,” McNeill said.
As beef consumers put nutrition at the top of their mind, McNeill said people are looking for ways to change their diet to eat healthier and eat more protein, which is critical to the research the Beef Checkoff has shown, proving the benefits of eating more beef.
“There is a lot of national and public attention on eating healthier, so I think the dietary guidelines will continue to get a lot of attention and have an impact,” 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.