Less meat in the new French guidelines

By : Elena Salazar
Feb 13, 2017

The French food agency (ANSES) has updated the guidance that underpins France's official dietary guidelines. The update recommends limiting red meat consumption to under 500g per week, and processed meat to 25g per day, whilst giving pulses, fruit and veg a greater role in the diet. 


The French official dietary guidelines, the National Nutrition and Health Program’s dietary guidelines or PNNS, are being reviewed. The current edition, published in 2011, provides advice on healthy eating for the general population and other stakeholders. Under the scope of the review, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has published a scientific opinion that updated its recommendations on what a healthy diet would look like for the adult French population.


The newly formulated guidelines are designed to address nutritional requirements and prevent the risk of chronic disease. ANSES has sought to accommodate updated high-quality evidence of the role of fiber, red and processed meats in the diet, whilst taking into account the consumption habits of the French public. The update has resulted from a review of dietary reference values for vitamins and minerals, as well as optimisation modelling to illustrate the right balance between the different food groups.


Notably, the updated recommendations stress the need to considerably reduce the consumption of processed meats in France, which include traditional charcuterie products, such as ham, salami and sausages, as well as pate, to a maximum of 25g per day. For other meats, excluding poultry, advice is also to limit consumption to under 500g per week. On the other hand, the guidelines encourage greater and more regular consumption of pulses. Wholegrain cereal products, vegetables and fruits are also given a greater role in the diet.


Meat messaging in the current French Food Guide

With these set of recommendations, France joins a host of other EU countries that have incorporated advice to limit or reduce meat consumption into their official dietary guidelines. Whilst the French revision does not take into account the environmental impact of foods, it is nevertheless likely to have a positive effect on overall sustainability. Synergies between healthy and sustainable diets mean that following dietary guidelines tends to result in lower greenhouse gas emissions than sticking to average diets, an effect that is likely to be more pronounced as additional advice to cut down on meat is taken up. 



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