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USDA, Food Organizations Promoting Leaner Meats

April 10, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Agriculture Department and several private groups, including diet and health advocates, are launching a nationwide program to educate consumers that meat - the leaner kind - is a valuable part of their menus.

According to the plan, which will be officially announced by USDA next week, training kits comprised of ″modules″ will be sent to all state and county extension offices.

These sets of materials, each containing five modules or segments, will be used mostly by county home economics agents to help families use meat in planning and preparing a balanced diet.

Development of the modules was overseen by an advisory committee that included representatives of the meat industry, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association and the Food Marketing Institute.

Alisha Harrison of the National Cattlemen’s Association said ″NCA has provided technical support″ for the project for the last five years.

″It’s to help some of the educators out there understand a little bit more about lean meat and how it fits into the diet,″ Harrison said.

The educational program comes as many health and diet authorities continue to advocate less fat and meat for consumers.

On Monday, for example, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said it would urge USDA to change the food groups it recommends that people eat from daily.

Instead of the current basic groups of meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and bread and cereals, the committee said the list should be whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruit.

Meat could still be eaten, but more as a garnish or flavoring the centerpiece of meals, the committee said.

Beth Branthaver of USDA’s Extension Service said the educational modules focus on using meat in a balanced diet.

″We recognize that meat makes a valuable contribution to the diet, that meat has gotten a good deal leaner in the last few years, that most consumers want to try to do things to reduce fat in their diet, and we would hope that these materials will be helpful,″ she said.

For example, Branthaver said in a telephone interview, there is instruction on how to select food at grocery stores, including how to recognize the leaner cuts of meat.

Then, in another module, the preparation of the leaner meat is described to tell consumers ″how to prepare lean meat so it’s still lean when served″ at the table, she said.

Branthaver said about 4,500 sets of the material - each about the size of a large metropolitan telephone book - will be distributed, including some for groups that assisted in the development.

Although the project was not designed for commercial development, Branthaver said the University of Florida, which was one of those involved in writing the material, has agreed to offer the modules for sale.

However, Branthaver said an estimated price of the sets was not available at this time.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Tests are planned to see if there are any traces in the U.S. meat supply of an illegal veterinary drug that last year sickened 135 people in Spain who ate liver from animals treated with the drug.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it was investigating possible domestic use of the drug, clenbuterol, and that it has asked Customs Service officials to watch for attempts to bring it into the United States.

The FDA said there were reports the drug may have been used to develop muscles in cattle, sheep and swine exhibited at livestock shows earlier this year in Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas, and Oklahoma City.

The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety Inspection Service will conduct tests this month to determine if residues of the drug are present in tissues collected from suspect show animals, the FDA said. The agency also said it has asked state agriculture departments to help prevent use of the drug.

Clenbuterol is approved for use in Canada and in some European and South American nations to treat respiratory problems in horses, but no country has approved its use in food-producing animals. It is not approved for any use in the United States.

Symptoms of clenbuterol poisoning can appear suddenly and include increased heart rate, muscle tremors, headache, dizziness, nausea, fever and chills.

The FDA said that while no deaths have been associated with clenbuterol, the agency was concerned about possible serious reactions in sensitive individuals, pregnant women and people with heart disease.

It said the reported illegal use had involved only show animals, which are slaughtered for food in some states.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Agriculture Department crop watchers expect the acreage of fresh market vegetable for harvest this spring to decline 7 percent from a year ago to about 176,000 acres.

Acreages of all seven of the selected spring vegetables are down from last year, the department’s Agricultural Statistics Board said Tuesday.

Indicated declines include: broccoli, down 5 percent; carrots, 4 percent; cauliflower, 4 percent; celery, 9 percent; sweet corn, 11 percent; head lettuce, 2 percent; and tomatoes, 14 percent.

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