Publication Details

Williams, P. & Droulez, V. (2010). Australian red meat consumption - implications of changes over 20 years on nutrient composition. Food Australia, 62 (3), 87-94.


Trimming fat off meat is recommended for reducing intake of saturated fat. This paper reviews trends over 20 years that have influenced the red meat supply in response to consumer and health professional demands for lean meat, drawing on published survey data, marketing information, analysis of meat content and qualitative research commission by Meat and Livestock Australia. Separable fat is the greatest determinant of the saturated fat in Australian red meat, and changes in processing and butchering practices have combined to produce red meat today with significantly lower saturated fat. Nutrient analyses in 2002 showed that the separable fat on raw retail samples was up to 38% less than in comparable cuts in 1983. Further trimming by consumers prior to consumption is also increasing. In 2007, 89% of consumers reported buying trimmed meat or removing some or all fat prior to consumption. The 1995 National Nutrition Survey showed that red meat contributed less than 10% of dietary saturated fat intake in Australia, and continues to make an important contribution to intake of iron, zinc, omega-3 and vitamin B12, as well as encouraging consumption of vegetables. Deitary messages and strategies for reducing saturated fat have increased fat trimming practices by retailers as well as consumers. Consequently, trimmed red meat is not a major source of saturated fat in the Australian diet. To avoid overestimating total and saturated fat intake, dietary advice and analyses should ensure data reflects red meat as consumed rather than as purchased.