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