New Zealanders will be invited to participate in a major research programme to assess the health and well-being benefits of eating pasture-raised beef and lamb, compared to grain-finished beef and plant-based alternatives.

Approximately 100 people will be monitored in two ground-breaking clinical studies, led by researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland.

The projects will assess the physical effects on the body from eating the different foods for up to 10 weeks, as well as psychological elements, such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels.

The research team includes meat scientists, agricultural academics, dieticians behavioural experts and social scientists.

Under scrutiny – roast beef.

Sirma Karapeeva, Meat Industry Association Chief Executive, is excited by the programme of research being undertaken by Meat Industry Association’s
Innovation arm.

She said much of the global research on the health, nutritional and environmental aspects of red meat was based on intensive grain-finished farming systems.

“However, New Zealand specialises in free-range livestock farming that is naturally pasture-raised, antibiotic-free and hormone-free.We know there are myths and misinformation about the production and benefits of eating red meat, so we
have turned to research to help bring balance to what
consumers are hearing.

“Nutritionists tell us moderate amounts of red meat can be an important part of a well-balanced diet, and this research aims to build on the substantial credible evidence that underpins this advice.

“Consumers are choosing to make ideological decisions about what they eat. In part, this is a backlash against broken food systems, such as factory farming and ‘big food’.” There is a growing consumer desire for better quality food produced from natural systems, which supports a strong future for ‘real’ red meat as produced in New
Zealand.

Healthy veggie burger with vegan pattie, guacamole, onion and sprouts.

“Research shows there is untapped global demand for natural beef and lamb raised on grass pastures and consumers are prepared to pay a premium for it.

“New Zealand farmers have a compelling story to tell about our natural farming systems and a strong point of difference against many of our international
competitors. The red meat sector is working hard to ensure that story is heard by consumers around the world.”

The highlight of the programme, a sustained clinical study, will see members of 40 households on a managed flexitarian dietary regime over 10 weeks. The participants will be monitored over the course of the study and changes in health status, behaviours and attitudes and perceptual well-being recorded.

Senior scientist Dr Emma Bermingham of AgResearch said: “We will carry out an advanced analysis of red meat, looking at its unique components, such as bioactive lipids and minerals, that make red meat such a nutritious form of protein when included as part of a balanced healthy diet.”

The research is supported by Meat Industry Association Innovation Ltd (MIA Innovation) and jointly funded with Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd (B+LNZ),
the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge, https://www.highvaluenutrition.co.nz/ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
(MBIE)

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