UFU comment on EAT-Lancet global food report

Friday, 18 January, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has questioned the diet recommendations of a new report, published by the EAT-Lancet Commission, saying it ignores scientifically proven and medically accepted advice that lean red meat is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The UFU is advising consumers to do their own research on the nutritional benefits of eating lean red meat as part of a balanced diet before making radical changes. UFU deputy president David Brown says, “There are many nutritional benefits of lean red meat. It is a major source of protein and is rich in iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. Dramatically reducing lean red meat in your diet could mean you are missing out on vital nutrients.”

The EAT-Lancet Commission says that food must be produced sustainably across the globe in order to feed the growing population, something the UFU agrees with. “However, farming methods and eating patterns vary greatly across the globe. A ‘one size fits all’ solution is unrealistic and targeting one food group is an over simplified solution,” said Mr Brown.

Northern Ireland is ideally suited to livestock grazing systems and makes the best use of available natural resources. In many areas, there are few alternative uses for the land. Mr Brown said, “Farmers recognise climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. In Northern Ireland, our grassland and hill land are massive natural carbon sinks. Capturing CO2 and storing it. Work is under way to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we recognise there is still more to be done,” he said.

One of the best ways consumers can fight climate change is to buy local food. “When you buy food that is ‘grown not flown’ not only are you helping the planet but you are keeping local farmers in business. Farmers are rightly proud of the high quality food they produce. And when it comes to red meat, consumers can be confident when they buy Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef or lamb they are getting a product that meets some of the world's toughest animal welfare and environmental standards,” said Mr Brown.