BBC in the firing line over ‘green’ badge initiative

Neil Shand, CEO of the National Beef AssociationNeil Shand, CEO of the National Beef Association
Neil Shand, CEO of the National Beef Association
According to the National Beef Association (NBA), the BBC has stooped to new depths in attempting to direct children in a way that could be harmful to their health and growth.

In an open letter, sent last weekend to BBC Director General Tim Davie the NBA raises significant concerns with the new Blue Peter “green” badge initiative, encouraging children to be “environmentally friendly” by adhering to three tasks; turn off lights, use less plastic and not to eat meat.

“This absolutely implies that eating meat is not an environmentally acceptable thing to do,” says NBA CEO Neil Shand, courtesy of the correspondence to Mr Davie.

He added: “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.”

Shand also pointed out that many of these nutrients that are vital to a healthy food balance cannot be found naturally in any other food source.

The NBA believes the remit appears to be to encourage children not to eat meat, without giving any positive balanced view on the benefits of meat, either to their health, to local industry or to countryside. It also fails to give any negative view on how fruit, vegetables and other plant food, along 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,” Shand continued.

The NBA accepts that next generation needs to be more environmentally aware, but believes it is wholly unacceptable that only one side of a story is presented in this campaign.

Shand further explained: “Blue Peter’s attempts to influence the diet of young children away from these valuable food sources is a continuation of personal agendas by some journalists and programme makers within the Beef Bashing Corporation.”

The NBA questions Mr Davie’s stated commitment that “the BBC would be activists for impartiality where bias has no place”, claiming that the imbalance in reporting is plain for all to see.

In his letter, Mr Shand has requested the opportunity to discuss with Mr Davie in person, the NBA’s concerns regarding a lack of impartiality within the BBC’s environmental reporting, and offer some ideas as to how these can be addressed in the future.

The BBC has also received an open letter from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB); Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) on this matter.

It points out that the minerals and vitamins found in red meat should form an important part of a growing young person’s diet. Iron from meat sources is more readily absorbed by the human body compared with iron found in other non-meat sources. A lack of iron may result in a deficiency, increasing the risk of anaemia. Severe iron deficiency may also increase the risk of developing complications to the heart and lungs.

As it stands, 42% of teenage girls fail to achieve the minimum iron intake and 22% of teenage girls don’t get enough zinc, which is essential in supporting a healthy immune system.

The signatories to the letter also point out that it is essential for young people to learn and understand where their food comes from and its impact on the planet. They also recognise that the Green Badge campaign presents an opportunity to share the fantastic credentials of the British red meat industry, which – they point out - is amongst the most sustainable in the world and supports the livelihoods of thousands of people.

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