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North American Meat Institute tackles role of processed meat in diets in new video

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Continuing their trend of addressing misconceptions in the meat industry, the North American Meat Institute combatted the notion that processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage and deli meats cannot be a part of a healthy diet in their latest Meat MythCrusher video. 

In the video, Kerri Gehring, a nutrition expert at Texas A&M University, looked at the nutritional benefit of processed meats. 

“Processed meats are really no different than any other meat in the diet,” Gehring said. “There’s no reason at all we cannot include processed meats in our diet.”

Dietary benefits

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that processed meats can fit within a healthy dietary pattern,” said Gehring. “They’re a great source of protein, and they provide iron, Vitamin B12 and all different types of nutrients that people need.”

Gehring further explains, because it is a nutrient-dense food, meat provides a complete source of protein, offering availability of all amino acids the human body requires. 

“Preparing meat products in a plant by seasoning and cooking them can make them more delicious and convenient for consumers and, as a result, more accessible,” she summarized.

Gehring continued, “Processed meats are just meats with ingredients added. Manufacturers take ingredients – just like we would do if we were making something like a meatloaf at home – put them together and prepare them. The frankfurter we buy from the store is just prepared and cooked at the manufacturer, just like we do at our house.”

Common use

Gehring noted some of the most popular and wide-recognized healthy diets promote the consumption of processed meat, saying, “Some of the healthiest populations around the world regularly consume processed meats as a part of their diet.”

“USDA looked at followers of the Mediterranean diet, which to many is considered the gold standard healthy diet, and found that followers eat twice as much processed meat as those who follow the typical USDA food pattern,” she continued. “This shows that meats like ham, salami and sausage can easily be a beneficial part of a healthy and balanced diet.”


Delving deeper into meat process, Gehring said, “All meat must be ‘processed’ in some way before we eat it.”

Whether the product is chopped, sliced, seasoned, marinated or cooked at a plant or at home, processing allows users to create specific eating experiences.

“Hamburger is processed and formed into patties. Other meats like hot dogs, bologna and bacon have ingredients added to create particular tastes and characteristics prior to being cooked,” she provided as examples. “Just because the preparation is done in a plant instead of a home kitchen doesn’t somehow make processed meats less healthy.”

Regardless of how a meat product is processed, the same nutrition is available – whether the meat is sold prepared in a store or as a single fresh ingredient in the meat case, according to Gehring. 

Safety and nutrition

For more information on processed meats, Gehring encouraged consumers to refer to labels on processed meat packaging for more information on the product itself, including nutrition information.

“Any ingredients used in meat products are approved by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration is safe,” Gehring continued, noting every packaged product must list all the ingredients on the label to allow consumers to know what’s in that product. 

Further, she said meat companies have developed a wide range of formulations that also provide products lower in sodium or fat to meet specific consumer needs. 

“There are all types of processed meats,” she said. “For consumers concerned about fat, low-fat products are available, for example. Manufacturers have a wide range of products.”

Gehring added, “The nutrition information is included on the nutrition facts panel and even sometimes called out in special label claims.” 

“The key to good nutrition,” she emphasized, “is moderation. Too much of anything is not good for us. Eat a range of food, including meats, vegetables, fruits and whole grains for optimal nutrition.”

Meat MythCrushers

The North American Meat Institute and American Meat Science Association launched the Meat MythCrusher video series to provide easily accessible information about a variety of topics surrounding the meat and poultry and processing industry. 

The most recent video, discussing the issue of processed meat in the diet, is the 52nd video in the series.

Other videos in the Meat MythCrusher series have confronted common misconceptions by the public around topics including antibiotic use in livestock, meat nutrition, hormone use in animals, grass-fed versus conventional beef, superbugs, Meatless Monday and more. Each video brings meat scientists and other experts to explain complex topics in easily understood terms.

Altogether, the 52 videos in the series have been viewed nearly 300,000 times, and each video is accompanied by printed brochures that have been handed out to thousands of health, culinary and industry professionals around the U.S. 

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and compiled this articles from resources at Send comments on this article to

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