A large review of available evidence has concluded that health risks of eating red meat are low to very low.
They add that the evidence is not strong enough to support recommendations to eat less red meat and processed meat.
The subject of red meat is a hot topic of debate among researchers and many people with a keen interest in health. Opinions differ as to how much risk there may be in eating red meat.
The differences in opinion are exemplified by the fact that other prominent researchers have published a questioning and criticism of the findings within the same day.
The review comes from the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium, which includes a multi-national team of researchers.
Currently, both the UK and US recommend limiting intake of red and processed meat. In 2015, the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer indicated that consuming red meat is “probably carcinogenic”.
The purpose of the NutriRECS review was to conduct a thorough review of evidence to establish how strong the evidence is that red meat may be harmful.
The review included the results from dozens of studies and populations, and millions of total participants. Risks of mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer were reviewed, and the team used software (GRADE) to assess certainty of the evidence.
The NutriRECS Consortium panel suggest that current consumption of red and unprocessed meat should be continued. They rate this as a weak recommendation, given that research is yet to provide strongly conclusive evidence over safety or harm of red meat.
The clinical guidelines of the NutriRECS Consortium are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.
Within a day of the panel publishing their findings, Harvard University published an online rebuttal of the NutriRECS guidelines.
For the time being, it looks as though debate and the disagreements around red meat and health are set to continue.