Insights

The insights underpinning 'Make Every Bite Count' resources indicate that guidance on
balanced meals with no food waste is not only engaging, but also empowers people across
life stages to make healthy choices aligned with public health priorities.

1. Balanced meals explain amounts of red meat recommended for health and wellbeing.

Three to four balanced meals per week provides amounts of red meat recommended for key nutrients. These may include meals made with leftovers for ease and affordability.

  • Red meat is a key dietary predictor of iron and zinc deficiency, particularly during early childhood and in women of child-bearing age14,15,16,17,18.
  • Amounts recommended in three to four meals per week equals 455g per week of lean and cooked meat recommended for key nutrients, including iron, zinc, protein, omega-3 and vitamin B127.
  • Australian Dietary Guidelines define red meat as beef, lamb, pork, kangaroo and game meat and average intakes in the Australian diet are in line with recommended amounts, mainly from beef, lamb and pork20.

Three to four balanced meals per week boosts intake of vegetables and legumes when served alongside red meat.

  • There are reports of positive association between red meat and vegetable consumption in Australia in several studies21,22,23,9.
  • Emerging evidence suggests that the presence of a variety of dietary fibres is a key determinant of gut health24,25.
  • Scientific evidence associating high red meat consumption with chronic disease risk is inconclusive but highlights the importance of reducing key risk factors, including overweight and obesity and lack of adequate vegetables, wholegrains, and legumes26,27,28.

Aligns Australian dietary patterns with scientific evidence and current Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Amounts ranging from 100 to 250g (raw weight) served in popular meals three to four meals per week equal to 650g (raw weight) is equivalent to 455g of lean, cooked red meat per week currently recommended7.

2. Avoiding food waste addresses healthy eating barriers and important for the environment.

Pressure on cost of living is a key barrier to healthy eating.

  • Foodbank Hunger Report 2023 indicates up to 48% of Australians are experiencing food insecurity with 12% who worry food will run out; 13% who compromise their meal choices; and 23% who skip meals or whole days of eating1.
  • Distribution of rescued meat helps to support healthy eating because reducing purchase of fresh produce and protein is a common coping strategy1.

Smart shopping and balanced meals reduce the impact of overconsumption on indicators of health and the environment.

  • Australian evidence suggests that providing guidance on how to buy foods in amounts recommended reduces the impact of key environmental indicators, including climate, water, and cropland scarcity4.
  • The findings indicated that the impact of dietary changes was modest relative to the impact of changing production practices, highlighting the importance of agricultural strategies for reducing environmental impacts.

Avoiding food waste aligns with public health priorities:

 Australia’s National Food Waste Strategy goal to halve the country’s food waste by 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 aligns with Australian Dietary Guidelines (Appendix G)5,6,7.

3. Culinary nutrition engages and empowers everyone to enjoy healthy eating.

Behavioural insights suggest culinary nutrition empowers people to manage trade-offs, including cost and convenience barriers and cultural and sensory enablers of healthy eating2,3.

  • Culinary nutrition provides practical knowledge and skills to improve food and nutrition-related health by integrating culinary arts and nutrition8.  
  • Practical information informs healthy choices from fresh food categories such as red meat and vegetables, including how to buy, prepare and serve a variety of choices, including affordable options in balanced and leftover meals9.

Practical tips and meal ideas are engaging and accessible to key life stages3 (MLA 2023).

‘Make Every Bite Count’ tips, including smart shopping, nutritious choices, balanced meals and leftovers aligns with public health priorities.

  • National Obesity Strategy (2.1) 2022-2032: To improve knowledge, skills, and confidence to buy, prepare and serve healthy foods and drink13.

References

  1. Ipsos (2023) National Key Findings Report Food Hunger Report. Available from: foodbank.org.au
  2. Pollinate Research Agency (2022). Sustainable Diet Strategies. Qualitative and quantitative research commissioned by Meat and Livestock Australia, Sydney (unpublished).
  3. Meat and Livestock Australia (2023) Make Every Bite Count Report. Sydney (NSW): MLA. Available at: MLA Healthy Meals
  4. Ridoutt B, Baird D and Hendrie G. (2021) Diets within planetary boundaries: What is the potential of dietary change alone? Sustain Prod Consum. 28:802-810. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2021.07.009
  5. Commonwealth of Australia (2017) National Food Waste Strategy: Halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. Available from: gov.au
  6. United Nations (2022). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022. New York (USA): United Nations Publications. Available from: org
  7. National Health and Medical Research Council (2013). Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra (ACT): NHMRC. Available from: gov.au/adg
  8. Croxford S, Stirling E, MacLaren J, McWhorter JW, Frederick L, Thomas OW (2024) Culinary Medicine or Culinary Nutrition? Defining Terms for Use in Education and Practice. Nutrients 16: Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16050603
  9. Meat and Livestock Australia (2020) MLA Healthy Meals Report. Sydney (NSW): MLA. Available at: MLA Healthy Meals
  10. Meat and Livestock Australia (2009) Last Night's Dinner Report. Sydney (NSW): MLA. Available at: MLA Healthy Meals
  11. Meat and Livestock Australia (2010) Main Meal Repertoires Report. Sydney (NSW): MLA. Available at MLA Healthy Meals
  12. Meat and Livestock Australia (2013) What’s Cooking Report. Sydney (NSW): MLA. Available at: MLA Healthy Meals
  13. Commonwealth of Australia (2022). The National Obesity Strategy 2022-2032. Health Ministers Meeting. Available from: gov.au
  14. National Health and Medical Research Council (2011). A modelling system to inform the revision of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Canberra (ACT): Commonwealth of Australia.
  15. Heath A, Skeaff C, O’Brien S, Williams S and Gibson R. (2001) Can dietary treatment of non-anemic iron deficiency improve iron status? J Am Coll Nutr 20(5): 477-484.
  16. Patterson A, Brown W, Roberts D and Seldon M. (2001) Dietary treatment of iron deficiency in women of childbearing age. Am J Clin Nutr 74(5):650-56
  17. Cheng H, Griffin H, Byrant C, Rooney K, Steinbeck K and O’Connor H. (2013) Impact of diet and weight loss on iron and zinc status in overweight and obese young women. Asia Pac J Nutr 22(4):574-82.
  18. Fayet F, Flood V, Petocz P and Samman S. (2014) Avoidance of meat and poultry decreases intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc in young women. J Hum Nutr Diet 27:135-142
  19. Sui Z, Raubenheimer D, Cunningham J and Rangan A. (2016) Changes in meat/poultry/fish consumption in Australia: From 1995 to 2011–2012. Nutrients 8:753.
  20. Sui Z, Raubenheimer D and Rangan A. (2017A) Consumption patterns of meat, poultry, and fish after disaggregation of mixed dishes: secondary analysis of the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey 2011–12. BMC Nutr 3:52.
  21. Jenkins L, McEvoy M, Patterson A and Sibbritt D. (2012) Higher unprocessed red meat, chicken and fish intake is associated with a higher vegetable intake in mid-age non-vegetarian women. Nutr & Diet 69:293- 299.
  22. Grieger JA, Scott J and Cobiac L. (2012) Cluster analysis and food group consumption in a national sample of Australian girls. J Hum Nutr Diet 25:75-86
  23. Sui Z, Raubenheimer D and Rangan A (2017B) Exploratory analysis of meal composition in Australia: Meat and accompanying foods. Public Health Nutr 20:2157-2165.
  24. Muir J, Yeow E, Keogh J, Pizzey C, Bird A, Sharpe K, O’Dea K, Macrae F (2004) Combining wheat bran with resistant starch has more beneficial effects on fecal indexes than does wheat bran alone. Am J Clin Nutr 79(6):1020-28.
  25. Murtaza N et al. (2020) Polyols are a key driver of the bifidobacteria niche expansion and reduced bacterial richness observed with a moderate intake of food-borne prebiotics by healthy Australian subjects. Gastroenterology 156(6):S-484.
  26. Alexander D, Weed D, Miller P and Mohamed M. (2015) Red meat and colorectal cancer: a quantitative update on the state of the epidemiologic science. J Am Coll Nutr. 34(6):521-543.
  27. Johnston B, Zeraatkar D, Han M, Vernooij R, Valli C, El Dib R, Marshall C, Stover P, Fairweather-Taitt S, Wójcik G, Bhatia F, de Souza R, Brotons C, Meerpohl J, Patel C, Djulbegovic B, Alonso Coello P, Bala M and Guyatt G. (2019) Unprocessed red meat and processed meat consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations from The Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium. Ann Intern Med. 171(10):756.
  28. Lescinsky H, Afshin A, Ashbaugh C, Bisignano C, Brauer M, Ferrara G, Hay S, Iannucci V, Marczak L, McLaughlin S, Mullany E, Parent M, Serfes A, Sorensen R, Aravkin A, Zheng P and Murray C. (2022) Health effects associated with consumption of red meat: a Burden of Proof study. Nature Medicine 28:2075-82.