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New study blasts meat fat myth

Meat New Zealand chairman Jeff Grant welcomed a new study placing New Zealand Beef and Lamb firmly in the low-fat food category.

"The news that many cuts of trimmed, lean red meat contain less than 10% in fat, blasts the usual myths and provides a good healthy option for youngsters who want to control their weight, be active and have a balanced diet." Grant said.

The research showed that people cut any leftover fat content themselves, by trimming the meat, dropping the fat content to 8-16g (8% or less) per 200g steak.

"This will improve consumer perceptions of red meat as a lean, low-fat food, both in New Zealand and in our export markets." Grant said. New Zealand red meat exports are worth over $5 billion.

The study was commissioned by the New Zealand Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau and undertaken by Lincoln University. The Bureau is funded jointly by Meat New Zealand, meat processors and retailers to promote red meat in New Zealand.

Bureau General Manager Rod Slater said: " Some existing figures were out of date and inaccurate, and were pulling the reputation of red meat down. Our study reflects that retailers have changed their practices over the years to reduce fat content."

The Beef and Lamb Quality Mark developed and launched by Meat New Zealand in 1997, requires retailers to trim meat to a maximum of 5mm, and remove internal fat deposits where practical.

Grant said that in addition to increased retailer and consumer trimming, beef and sheep farmers were producing leaner meat. "Thirty years ago the average export lamb had 15 millimetres of fat on a lamb chop, and there was little incentive to reduce it because farmers were paid by weight. Now farmers are paid both on weight and lean meat content and so lambs now average only 5-6mm of fat."

"New Zealand farmers have successfully focussed on genetics and feeding practices to change their product over the years to meet consumer demand." Grant said.

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