USDA promotes beef consumption in children as young as 6 months

Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 7:41 AM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The United States Department of Agriculture released their dietary guidelines for the next four years, and for the first time says children as young as six months old should be eating lean beef.

“Beef is one of the most nutrient dense proteins there is,” explained Dr. Jennifer Leheska, registered dietitian and nutritionist. “We get a large percentage of zinc in our diet from beef because its such a good source. Zinc and iron are really especially critical in early childhood development so that’s why [the USDA] is prompting it and from these guidelines, solidifying the fact that lean beef early in childhood development is critical.”

The 38 cuts of lean beef are also a dense source of B-vitamins, Choline and protein, making it beneficial for young children.

“Beef is a very good first complimentary food for infants, especially for those who are primarily breastfed,” continued Leheska. “Because at six months of age you have to make sure you’re adding those Iron and Zinc nutrients to their diet. Beef has been found to be a very useful food as a first food.”

The USDA’s dietary guidelines are paramount for federal dietary programs and offer a resource for health professionals nationwide.

Experts predict these guidelines to cause an increase in demand for beef products.

“When you have an agency come out and say it’s good and fundamental that we start incorporating these very nutrient dense protein sources into babies at six months old, you’re going to see people recognize that, you’re going to see parents start feeding their kids [beef] early,” said Carmen Fenton, director of communications for the Texas Cattle Feeder’s Association. “That does have some snowball effect on demand.”

TCFA says this is beneficial for the Panhandle’s agriculture industry and, therefore, will benefit the Amarillo economy as a whole.

According to the TCFA, the cattle feeding industry has about a $15-billion economic impact on the region.

If demand for beef goes up, that means more jobs and more money in people’s pockets to spend at local businesses.

“Whats good for cattle feeders is good for our region,” said Fenton. “Not only are they supporting their health, but they’re also supporting these men and women all over, speckled throughout our rural fabric here in this region, that support us.”

To view the USDA’s full dietary guidelines report, visit their website.

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