CALLS for a meat tax as a means of reducing consumption and easing healthcare costs is emerging as beef’s latest social media battlefront.
Much like the fake meat and alternative protein barrage, and large parts of the carbon footprint and animal welfare debate, this particular trend appears to be shrouded in misinformation and emotive headlines.
International media has picked up on claims by university scientists in the United Kingdom that imposing price hikes on the likes of beef, lamb and pork would save as much as 700 million pounds to the country’s healthcare system.
The Oxford University researchers say a meat tax could prevent as many as 6000 deaths in the UK a year, according to BBC reports.
The researchers said reducing the portions of weekly red meat consumption to one a week could also help tackle global warming.
However, beef industry leaders and health professionals in Australia point out no scientific backing to support this argument was presented and references to World Health Organisation cancer-and-meat links were taken out of context.
The red meat industry had become an easy and unwarranted target for groups fighting for animal welfare and environment causes, nutritionist Anthony Power said.
From a health perspective, that was posing dangers and the call for a tax on red meat was particularly concerning, he said.
“Eating more meat - and eggs, fish and chicken - without all the extraneous carbohydrates will actually see a reduction in weight and obesity and a reduction in diabetes,” he said.
“Animal protein is so nutrient dense in terms of minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids and for many patients it is the one thing in their diet that is positive and keeping them healthy.
“The beef industry needs not apologise for this fact but rather educate society they have a health food in a sea of foods deficient in almost all nutrients.
“The fact is 70 per cent of a burger meal is the bun, the sugar, the beer but meat is taking the blame.
“We need to stop blaming the steak for all the mashed potato and bread buns eaten with it.”
Red Meat Advisory Council head Don Mackay said organisations could search for any selective research outcome and the meat tax concept appeared to be such a case.
Claims with no scientific backing and research with little rigour was eventually debunked, he said.
Opposition to animal protein production was always emotive and often very thin on facts, he said.
However, the red meat industry certainly had to “push back” and make certain the correct facts were laid on the table, he agreed.