It’s official, unprocessed red meat and dairy products are essential to human health and nutrition and consumers should never have been warned against their consumption.

Such are the vital building blocks, vitamins, and minerals contained in these naturally occurring animal products that new data has found that eating as many as three portions of full fat dairy per day can help protect against cancers and ward off obesity. Optimal consumption of red meat could also be as high as 200grams per day.

The welcoming news – presented by Professor Alice V Stanton of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – comes after six damaging years to British agriculture. During this time the UK Government, EU, and World Health Organisation, stated that people should look to a more plant-based diet to reduce their risk of non communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Such policy was based on the 2017 EAT-Lancet Commission which advised people to halve their consumption of animal sourced foods from 25% to 13% of the plate. The report also recommended a more planetary health diet reliant on doubling intakes of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

However, with animal-based foods being the main sources of commonly lacking nutrients and 18 of the lead 20 required for human health, many scientists found such information difficult to comprehend.

The reduced animal-based food diet was predicted to reduce global mortality by 11 million deaths but when this hypothesis was tested using data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, it demonstrated that the planetary health diet provided no additional protection from major cardiovascular events, or from mortality.

Furthermore, dairy was found to be essential with two or more full-fat servings per day associated with a 25% reduction in colorectal cancer and a 60% reduction in obesity.

There was also no or very weak evidence that unprocessed red meat is associated with an increased risk in the global burden of disease with the evidence insufficient to make any strong or conclusive recommendations.

More worrying is the fact that EAT-Lancet Commission has not corrected the information it contains in its report.

Speaking at British Cattle Breeders’ Conference in Telford, professor Stanton said: “There are grounds for considerable concern in regard to the quality, transparency, and validity of the data, assumptions, and statistical modelling, used in the calculation of the global health estimates, which underpin the claimed human health benefits.

“Incorrect information was published and the collaborators have now acknowledged that, but it did influence the decision makers who are now aware and are correcting that. No influential metrix should ever have been published in the Lancet without evidence.

“Red and processed meats are rich in all essential amino acids and also in many commonly lacking micronutrients, including iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D3. Whilst red and processed meats are not the only sources of these nutrients, they are the most important bio available sources for many populations worldwide.

“If the current public health message advising moderate consumption of red and processed meats, as part of a healthy balanced diet, was to be replaced by Global burden of Disease 2019 guidance that any intake of such meats was harmful, it is highly likely that the prevalence of child and maternal malnutrition, iron deficiency anaemia, and elderly sarcopenia, would be greatly increased.

“It is good that the Global Burden of Disease collaborators have recently revised their estimates for unprocessed red meat, stating that the 95% uncertainty interval for the TMREL is very wide (0-200g/day)4 – this indicates that the optimal intake of red meat could be as high as 200 grams a day.”

Despite the above described limitations and errors being publically acknowledged by the EAT-Lancet and GBD authors respectively, no corrections have been applied to the published papers, and the estimates remain unchanged on their organisation websites.

The papers continue to be extensively cited, including such articles as the 2022 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change.

Commenting on the findings a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome research and discussion into healthy, balanced eating habits. Lean red meat is a good source of protein and a number of micronutrients along with fish, eggs, and non-animal sources such as beans and pulses. The Eatwell Guide suggests choosing lean cuts of meat and mince, and eating less red and processed meat including bacon, ham, and sausages.”