last updated 24 Nov. 2005

Research evidence of lowered meat fat consumption



Laugesen M. Reduced Red Meat Fat 1995-2000 Nutrition Society of NZ. 7 December 2005.

a powerpoint presentation, incorporating NZ edible tallow data for 2002. Reduced Red Meat Fat.ppt

This updated presentation incorporates NZ industry data estimating 15,000 tonnes of edible (beef) tallow entering the food supply in 2002, as against 27,000 tonnes estimated by FAO. When these more verifiable data from New Zealand are used, the reduction in fat from red meat in the 2002 food supply compared with 1995 data untrimmed, amounts to 8 percentage points of total diet energy, or equivalent to the total reduction in fat over the total food supply.

So does the extra fat trimmed from the meat cuts go back into the food supply? Apart from the fat used for mince and sausages, the answer is clearly no, and less now than ever before.

To be published in Proc Nut Soc NZ in 2006.

In 2000 Drs Laugesen and Swinburn published a paper on The New Zealand food supply and diet - trends 1961-95 and comparison with other OECD countries. NZ Med J. 113:311-5. This paper showed that meat fat in the food supply in New Zealand was one of the highest among OECD countries.

In 2004, at the request of the NZ Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau, Health New Zealand undertook to review the available data, as food supply data was now available up to 2002.

Laugesen M. Reduced red meat fat consumption in New Zealand 1995-2002

NZ Med J 25 November 2005, Vol 118 No 1226 Page 1 of 11


What this paper adds

The fat composition of the beef and lamb carcase has remained much the same for half a century, but red meat cuts as sold are now 30% leaner, following on from the introduction of a Quality Mark standard and industry-wide pre-sale trimming of red

meat cuts in 1997.

In 2002, after trimming, a dressed beef carcase (cuts, mince, and sausages as sold) averaged 11% fat, and a lamb carcase 15%.

Home trimming of meat fat after purchase may have further decreased saturated fat consumption.

These mouth watering images may take a few moments to load . . .

Grilled lamb




In 1997, the NZ Beef and Lamb Bureau’s Quality Mark programme brought about a change to lean meat cuts in virtually all meat outlets.


Roast beef fillet

- NZ Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau



NZMJ 25 November 2005, Vol 118 No 1226 Page 1 of 11


Decreased red meat fat consumption in New Zealand: 1995–2002

Murray Laugesen


Aim To review New Zealand red meat and meat fat supply trends before and after the introduction of the Quality Mark standard.

Methods Review of trends in: per capita meat fat supply estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); carcase and meat cut composition reports of knife dissection and chemical analyses; the fate of fat trim; and a Lincoln College study of

home-cooked and trimmed beef.

Intervention From September 1997, the red meat industry’s Quality Mark required

trimming of beef and lamb cuts to no more than 5 mm external fat.

Results (1) Trimming of fat from red meat before sale (supported by virtually all butchers) decreased the fat and saturated fat content of a red meat carcase by 30% (beef, -27%; lamb, -30%; tallow unchanged); by -8% in the total food supply; and by -17% across all meat. In 2002, fat comprised 7.4% of trimmed beef cuts, and 11.2%

of all beef sold: cuts, mince, or sausages. In 2002, fat comprised 15.3% of lamb cuts; and 15.5% with mince included. (2) From 1995 to 2002, total saturated fat availability per capita in the food supply decreased by 19% (from 65 g to 53 g per day), mostly due to 7 g less saturated fat daily from red meat. (3) When combining effects (1) and

(2), saturated fat per capita decreased: -27% in total food supply; -65% in red meat excluding tallow; -48% in red meat including tallow. In 1995 (without trimming), red meat contributed 25% of saturated fat in the total food supply whereas in 2002, red meat contributed 19% before (and 13% after) trimming. (4) Home trimming may

remove an additional 27% of fat from beef steaks.

Conclusion Centralised meat processing, and Quality Mark labelling since 1997, ensured fat was trimmed from beef and lamb cuts, and reduced saturated fat in red meats by 30%. In 2002, mince and sausages accounted for nearly half of beef fat sold as red meat.


The Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau’s Quality Mark, pinned to 90% of all beef and lamb cuts at retail since 1997.


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