NCBA’s Shalene McNeill Emphasizes Beef’s Nutrient-Dense Value for the 2025 Dietary Guidelines

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Dr. Shalene McNeill about the dietary guidelines for 2025

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 2025.

“USDA and Health and Human Services are now developing the 10th edition of our Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” McNeill said. “We had our very first one back in 1980. We are now on our 10th edition, and they are updated every five years.”

McNeill said the formation of these guidelines involves a process where the public is invited to a series of meetings; then, a scientific advisory committee prepares a report that ultimately becomes the policy report known as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The process is about halfway complete, McNeill said, as NCBA has provided oral and written comments on the testimony of the value of beef in a healthy diet.

“We expect that the committee work will wrap up at the end of 2024, and we will see that 10th edition of the dietary guidelines out at the beginning of 2025,” McNeill said.

McNeill said the current dietary guidelines clearly acknowledge that beef is part of a healthy diet, and as the 2025 guidelines come to completion, there are still many reasons to include it in a healthy diet.

“There is certainly a lot of research to support the role that beef plays in healthy diets, so that is something we are watching,” McNeill said. “This committee is very focused on looking at ways that they might be able to model and add more plant proteins in at the expense of meat, and that is concerning because we know that when you add more plant proteins in, you have to eat more calories, you get fewer nutrients like iron and zinc, and you might make problems worse with the American diet with the nutrients we already know are gaps like iron and zinc and some of the protein needs that we have.”

McNeill said beef is a great way for consumers to get plenty of nutrition and taste all in one package, and it ensures that nutrient requirements are met. While beef is one of the best protein sources available, McNeill said it is unique because it contains many critical nutrients such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

“It is a concern if we lower our beef recommendations in the dietary guidelines,” McNeill said.

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