Two stories about meat have recently dominated the headlines.

One is the latest in a series of reports that state that increased meat consumption, particularly processed red meat, has a negative impact on life expectancy.

The paper published in the British Medical Journal is a retrospective study based on following the fate of individuals from the USA who reported the details of their food consumption over an eight year period. The report raises some interesting points but, as the authors comment, there are some weaknesses in observational studies of this type.

The reported statistical trend is small and based on a significant increase in meat consumption of over half a serving per day. Given the self-reported retrospective nature of the study, it is not possible to confirm a direct association with meat consumption and life expectancy. There is an inevitable delay between the changes in eating habits and any associated outcome. Most readers will not analyse the paper in great depth though; the message of headline will be retained.

The second story, based on a report from consultancy firm A.T Kearney, has headlined the opinion that by 2040, just over twenty years away, most meat (60%) will be manufactured from cells, without slaughtering animals.

The analysis, based on numerous interviews, appears to contain a strong bias towards feedlot/intensive meat production. Will meat become a niche product produced from a few patches of grass while most humans consume “meat” products produced in large factory laboratories? What role will dairy proteins play in this production system? And given the reported evidence about the health risks associated with processed meats, will there be any negative health implications for consumers of these new processed products?

At VetSalus we are concerned with assisting the production of wholesome food from healthy animals. Our consultants aim to reduce the use of unnecessary antibiotics, improve farming sustainability and maintain on-farm standards of animal welfare. The business also bases its advice to clients on evidence-based science. Studies such as these may impact on the consumption of meat products but do not detract from the fact that currently, meat production is a massive global business and whatever the future trends, there is much work to do now! At VetSalus we will continue to use the highest quality science to influence the production of wholesome food from healthy animals.