The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is calling on medical journal The Lancet to retract the Global Burden of Disease study of 2019.
Its request for the retraction comes after what it said is a “lack of clarity” from the journal on whether the 2019 update was scrutinised by peers and conducted in line with appropriate procedures to ensure its accuracy.
The study is used, the AHDB said, to “support claims that red meat consumption is a cause of higher health risks”.
This is despite the publication of another study carried out by the same authors of the 2019 study which found “weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type two diabetes and ischemic heart disease”, it said.
Chief executive of the AHDB, Tim Rycroft, said The Lancet is a “highly regarded” medical journal and the Global Burden of Disease dataset is incredibly influential on public health and nutrition policy.
“Therefore it is imperative that this science follows due process and critical review to ensure the greatest accuracy and, not least, legitimacy,” he said.
“As an evidence-based organisation, we are particularly concerned about the lack of transparency around how this data has been analysed and the way in which the new evidence review criteria has been determined.
“Therefore, on behalf of our levy payers, we will continue to push for transparency on this, to ensure the health impacts of red meat consumption are accurately depicted in science, policy and indeed society.”
Rycroft said red meat offers a valuable contribution to a healthy balanced diet, and the authors of study acknowledge that evidence, which shows a protective relationship between red meat consumption and stroke has been overlooked.
“As has its protective relationship with iron deficiency anaemia, sarcopenia and child and maternal malnutrition,” he said.