Africa’s biggest cattle company has agreed to withdraw an ad which says a healthy lifestyle should involve a daily helping of beef.
Karen beef, with 150,000 cattle on its farm in Heidelberg, south of Johannesburg, made the pledge in response to two complaints to the advertising watchdog.
Nicola Millson and Peter de Fouw wrote to the Advertising Regulatory Board after seeing a Karan newspaper ad that said: “Want a healthy lifestyle? Make beef part of your daily diet.”
Millson said the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), had warned that red meat was probably carcinogenic to humans.
“Furthermore, the WHO states that the risk of colorectal cancer could increase by 17% for every 100g portion of red meat eaten daily,” she said.
De Fouw told the watchdog it was a “medically proven fact” that red meat causes cancer.
In its response, Karan said it had not been negligent in ignoring the possible link between meat consumption and cancer in the article accessible with the QR code that appeared in its ad.
The watchdog’s finding said: “In response to subsequent queries, [Karan] submitted that they will not make reference to daily consumption in future claims without firm evidence.”
It said it was satisfied that Karan’s undertaking was unequivocal and would take no further action.
The health content on Karan’s website focuses on “the hormone myth”, but does not mention cancer.
“A healthy lifestyle requires lean beef as part of the daily nutritional diet. It is a rich source of protein and contains the nine essential amino acids that your body is unable to produce,” it says. “Protein is the primary nutrient in the diet and is indispensable. Beef is also an excellent source of minerals, especially iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, copper, magnesium and manganese.
“For a limited, but adequate, intake of cholesterol, the Heart Foundation SA and dietary guidelines recommend that a total of 300mg of cholesterol be consumed daily.
“Research studies on SA beef have been clear that a serving of 100g of cooked boneless lean beef provides less than a third of the recommended intake.”