Source: The Mercury, 18 January, 1997, p.10


Meat eating falls
amid vitamin fear

By KATE
HANNON in
Canberra

AUSTRALIANS ate an average
five kilograms less meat last
year as national meat
consumption fell to an all-
time low, according to
preliminary figures released
yesterday by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics.

   The National Heart
Foundation warned that if the
downward trend in meat
consumption continued people
could be denying themselves
important vitamins such as
iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

   The per capita consumption
of meat and meat products fell
to a record low of 69.7kg. This
represents more than a 17%
decline in meat consumption
when compared to the average
per capita consumption of
84.4kg in 1990-91.

   The 1995-96 consumption
of meat fell by 6.4% compared
to the previous year. The
biggest falls were in the
consumption of beef which
was down 4.8% to 33kg and
pigmeat which fell by 6.1% to
18.2kg.

   National Heart Foundation
nutrition manager Marita
Grundy said there was already
evidence from health
studies of adolescents who had
shunned meat, particularly red
meats, suffering from a lack of
nutrients prevalent in meat.

Ms Grundy said there had
been a widespread
misconception that meat
contained too much fat when
in fact Australian meat
products were extremely
lean.

   She said that the fall in meat
consumption could be put
down to the change in diet of
many Australians and the
adaptation to that change by
meat retailers in tailoring meat
products.

   "The growing variety of
foods on the market such as
pasta, noodles, couscous, rice
and savoury breads are
increasing their importance in
meals, whereas in the past the
meat was always the staple of a
meal," Ms Grundy said.

"We're using smaller serves
of meat with meals, so there is
a change in eating behaviour
greatly influenced by ethnic
foods."

   The executive officer of the
National Meat Association
which represents export and
domestic meat traders,
smallgoods manufacturers and
meat retailers, Colin Morley,
said the figures from the ABS
were estimates and did not
reflect the fact that more head
of livestock had been
slaughtered in 1995-96 than in
1990-91.

   Poultry consumption per
capita fell 2.8% to 27.4kg in
the year to 30 June, 1996.

   Australians also drank less
beer and more soft drinks and
milk in 1995-96.


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