Red meat can boost girls’ iron levels

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Fiona Feeley and Niamh Doyle, the Foyle College home economics teachers, were among 100 colleagues who heard how 40 per cent of girls have low iron intake levels and how a good way of addressing this is by eating more red meat.

Niamh and Fiona (pictured) were in attendance at a conference in Belfast hosted by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) for Northern Ireland in conjunction with Meat and Education, a body which supports food education.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, TV nutritionist, health writer and dietitian was the keynote speaker and addressed delegates on the topic: can nutrients in red meat benefit secondary school children?

LMC’s Industry Development Manager, Colin Smith said: “Red meat has a vital role to play in delivering key nutrients such as iron, protein, zinc and B vitamins to secondary school children.

“It was quite shocking to hear that 40 per cent of girls surveyed as part of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) in 2014 had low iron intake levels.

“Dr Ruxton clearly demonstrated the importance of lean red meat for learning and sports performance with red meat providing almost a fifth of daily protein intakes in young people.

“NDNS data has shown that there is room for improvement in the diet of many secondary school children and fresh lean cuts of beef and lamb can certainly be part of the solution.”

The new Eatwell Guide was explained by Joanne Casey, from the FSA in NI’s Standards and Dietary Health team. Representatives from the British Nutrition Foundation, Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) and the LMC also spoke at the conference.

Cherrie Kenny, Education Services Manager at LMC said, “The Annual Conference provides an opportunity to update teachers with topical, relevant and factual information on diet, health and nutrition relevant to the Northern Ireland curriculum.

“We provide a broad range of resources to home economics’ teachers here through cookery demonstrations and via our website www.food4life.org.uk The conference is a great way of bringing delegates up to speed on our work and plans for the future, as well as a way of learning best practice from professionals across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.”