The new recommendations were put together by a panel of 14 people working in various fields related to nutrition. The panelists evaluated five different reviews of previous studies, using a research approach that rates the certainty of the evidence, and focused on the “absolute risk” rather than the “relative risk” of eating meat.
“For the majority of people, but not everyone, continuing their red and processed meat consumption is the right approach,” study author Bradley Johnston told Time.
The panelists found “only low-certainty evidence of a very small reduction in cancer or other adverse health consequences from reducing meat consumption [by three servings per week,]” Johnston told Time. “For most people who enjoy eating meat, the uncertain health benefits of cutting down are unlikely to be worth it.”
However, the guidelines are facing pushback from others in the nutrition community, and three of the 14 panelists disagreed with the conclusion. Critics say that the method that the panelists used is typically applied to drug research, which should be treated differently than nutrition studies.
“Regularly eating processed meat, and higher consumption of red meat, increases your risk of colorectal cancer; suggesting that there is no need to limit these foods would put people at risk of colorectal cancer and further undermine public confidence in dietary advice,” Dr. Nigel Brockton, The American Institute for Cancer Research’s vice president of research, said in a statement.
Current guidelines from the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommend limiting consumption of meat, poultry, and eggs to 26 ounces a week, the equivalent of about four burgers. But, if this new advice holds true, you can start rethinking your lunch plans.