Mimi's meat comments 'perverse, hysterical'


Sir – The letter by Mimi Bekhechi uses an outbreak of Covid-19 in a perverse, hysterical manner which adds nothing to a factually based debate.
Having a COVID-19 case in an Australian meat establishment, while regrettable, is not entirely unexpected given that the industry employs over 100,000 people directly.
It makes a link which has no basis whatsoever and that is that there is no evidence at all that Covid-19 is transferred through food.
Ms Bekhechi’s attempt to link the standards of an Asian “wet market” to the extraordinarily high quality food hygiene standards set and maintained by Australian authorities and the industrial organisations required to uphold them is disappointing.
Having visited “wet markets” as recently as February this year in two Asian countries I can say I was heartened at the influence Australian regulations have had in the way they operate including the way they humanely process livestock.
These standards are overseen by independent officers in the two countries I visited.
Having visited Australian abattoirs the hygiene standards were of the highest quality.
As for Ms Bekhechi’s other claims, like most things over indulgence can lead to health issues.
This is why the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which are based on scientific evidence, provide recommendations appropriate to the Australian diet.
They currently recommend the consumption of 65g a day cooked red meat, which is equivalent to 455g/week of cooked red meat as part of a healthy diet because red meat is considered the most important protein source for iron and zinc.
Alternatively the promotion of alternative plant based meats is in fact based on a laundry list of chemical ingredients including abnormal levels of sodium.
And if I may address one last thing, the ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey of 55,000 Australians from across every state and territory and every Federal electorate asked the respondents about their attitudes, behaviours and experiences.
The survey revealed that just 1% of the nation identifies as vegan, while just 3% considered themselves vegetarian.
Our processing industry has fared extremely well in comparison to our international counterparts, which is a reflection of the lengths our industry has gone to protect our workforce and community, as well as the strong response in Australia to effectively flatten the curve.
This deserves recognition not unfair, unfounded criticism.
Ashley Manicaros
CEO, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association


  1. To correct and clarify, the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013, p.65) says: “To enhance dietary variety and reduce some of the health risks associated with consuming meat, up to a maximum of 455g per week (one serve [65 g] per day) of lean meats is recommended for Australian adults.”
    That sentence cites:
    National Health and Medical Research Council 2011. A modelling system to inform the revision of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.


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