Great Britain

Farming bodies slam Blue Peter for pushing anti-meat agenda

The scheme calls on children, along with their class, after-school clubs and sports club, to choose a ’supersized pledge’ for two weeks, such as replacing meat dishes with plant based alternatives as part of a ’healthy balanced diet’.

Other ’environmentally friendly’ pledges included turning off lights and using less plastic.

But Neil Shand, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said the attempt to influence the diet of young children was a continuation of personal agendas by some journalists and programme makers within the ’Beef Bashing Corporation’.

It comes as the BBC has increasingly come under fire for its perceived anti-meat agenda.

In an open letter sent to BBC Director General Tim Davie on April 10, Mr Shand said: “This absolutely implies that eating meat is not an environmentally acceptable thing to do.

“Meat - of all origins, but especially red meat - is a valuable source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and is scientifically established to provide nutrients which are essential to development and growth of children."

The NBA also highlighted the remit failed to give a balanced view on the benefits of meat on health, local industry and countryside, as well as any negative points on how fruit, vegetables and other plant food, with their corresponding air miles, might impact the environment.

“It is incomprehensible that this type of programme should offer views which are at best unbalanced, and at worst irresponsible,” Mr Shand added.

He requested the opportunity to discuss with Mr Davie in person the NBA’s concerns regarding the lack of impartiality within the BBC’s environmental reporting.

Integrity

In a separate letter, Christine Watts, chief communications officer of AHDB, Alan Clarke, chief executive of Quality Meat Scotland and Gwyn Howells, chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru said the unbalanced reporting risked compromising the integrity of the red meat produced in the UK to future consumers.

"Citing phrases including ’reducing the amount you eat, especially beef and lamb, is known to be even better for the climate than reducing the amount you travel in a car’ is incorrect, misleading and based on widely-debunked data," they said.

"It is essential that young people learn and understand where their food comes from and its impact on the planet, and the Green Badge campaign presents an opportunity to share the fantastic credentials of the British red meat industry, which is among the most sustainable in the world and supports the livelihoods of thousands of people.

"As a public service broadcaster, the BBC has a responsibility to provide an impartial argument. This is all the more important when communicating to children."

Positive

Ms Watts, Mr Clarke and Mr Howells welcomed the opportunity to share the positive messages from the red meat industry.

"Sharing information with young people about the techniques and processes in place to make sure farming in the UK is not at the detriment to the wider environment is also essential in helping them form their own opinions and consumption habits," they added.

"A good place to start is Farming Foodsteps, an online resource developed by professionals specifically for school-aged children which explores the red meat journey and includes sustainability and health messaging.

"These stories must be shared, and we ask that the BBC and Blue Peter to reconsider their one-sided messaging and provide an opportunity for the heads of the UK’s red meat industry bodies to meet with the head of children’s programming to shed light on the positive messages."

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