Pat McCormack, ICMSA President pictured at the ICMSA AGM which took place at the South Court Hotel, Limerick.
Pic: Don Moloney

ICMSA say food debate has been “taken hostage by hype”

The President of ICMSA has said that what should be a considered and scientific debate about diet and environmental sustainability has effectively been taken hostage by the hype around campaigns aimed at switching consumers from red meat and dairy-based diets to synthetic substitutes of often doubtful nutritional value and origins. Pat McCormack said that in that context it was invaluable that there was still a scientific and academic community willing to defy the “mysteriously-funded” advertising campaigns and relentless hype and return instead to the hard facts around what we should be eating and how that should be supplied to the consumers.

Mr. McCormack was referring to studies made by Professor Alice Stanton of RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) in which it was stated that there is indeed a body of data that proves that moderate consumption of Red Meat was demonstrably beneficial in terms of lifespan over heavy consumption, very rare consumption or none at all. Professor Stanton specified a whole range of proteins and micronutrients that were to be found in Red Meat and she was particularly striking on the importance of animal-based foods for children – the very population group whose welfare is most highlighted by those seemingly most eager to harangue people into abandoning animal-based foods. Referring to the period from conception to the second birthday, Professor Stanton stated in her report that protein and micronutrients intake then ‘contribute importantly to normal brain and body development. The consequences of deficiencies in these nutrients in childhood can be severe and irreversible, including stunting, reduced cognitive ability and school performance’.

Mr. McCormack said he looked forward to these findings by an eminent authority being given the same airtime as RTE accorded to notably less qualified individuals commenting on diet and nutrition during their climate week programme schedule last October.

“This is the really the heart of what we’re going to have to do and that’s ICMSA in coalition with anyone else who wants to cut through the relentless hype and deal in the hard facts around what we should be eating, in what quantities and at what stage in our lives.”

The ICMSA President also directed attention to Professor Stanton’s findings that consumption of dairy also brought health benefits: “We have Professor Stanton telling us that the top 15 dietary risk factors for ill-health include diets low in calcium and milk. Again, if the state’s specialist dairy farmer organisation says it then we’ll be accused of self-interest and pushing our own agenda. But the fact is that we don’t see the same broad media attention given to these facts and findings as we do to anti-dairy sentiment and pronouncements from sources much less qualified to comment than Professor Stanton. It’s difficult to imagine a debate more important than what we eat ourselves and what we give our children to eat – and how our diets can be made more sustainable and environmentally sound. That importance should mean that we deal with it on the basis of proof, science and absolute authority. But that’s not the basis on which the debate is currently being conducted. The whole debate seems to have been taken hostage by the hype around veganism and bogus or pseudo-science and once this stuff is allowed into the debate and given parity with real science and real data then we find ourselves unable to tell what is real fact from the deliberate fictions being peddled by these mysteriously funded advertising campaigns and their ill-informed cheerleaders in the wider media. We have to insist on the strict division between real knowledge and real hard facts and the relentless hype being introduced – and we suspect, paid for – by some corporations with a very large vested interest in detaching people from natural food and switching them instead to their own synthetic copyrighted variants”, said Mr. McCormack.

Ends       10 January 2020

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office