The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) report of 2007(1) recommended that the population average consumption of cooked red meat should not be >300 g (11 oz)/week, equivalent to a mean of approximately 43 g/d, of which very little if any should be processed. They define processed meat as that preserved by smoking, curing or salting or addition of chemical preservatives, including that contained in processed foods. Using this definition household food purchase data from the UK Expenditure and Food Survey was re-analysed to estimate red and processed meat consumption in Scotland over the period 2001–2 to 2006 and by Scottish index of multiple deprivation (SIMD) for the period 2001–2 to 2003–4. Adjustments were made for waste (new values derived from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs(2) and the Waste and Resource Action Programme survey of 2007(3)), meat content of prepared dishes and cooking losses. Data were analysed using general linear models within the complex samples module of SPSS (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) weighting to the Scottish population and taking account of sampling methods. Results are presented as population means (i.e. includes consumers and non-consumers), as eaten, for household and eating out foods combined.
*Unprocessed meat included meat products such as beef burgers and sausage rolls, which were mainly unpreserved.
*Combined data for years 2001–2 to 2003–4; 1, most deprived; 5, least deprived.
The population estimate for total red meat consumption was 46% higher than the WCRF recommended population average and there was no significant difference over the 5 years. There was a significant decreasing linear trend with increasing affluence for processed and total red meat (P<0.001 and P=0.001 respectively for linear trend).
In conclusion, current intakes are higher than desirable for cancer prevention based on the WCRF recommendations. This issue needs to be addressed in future prevention work.
Funding provided by Food Standards Agency Scotland is gratefully acknowledged (Project no. S14035). Data provided by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish Neighborhood Statistics, the Office of National Statistics and the UK Data Archive.