Washington/Press Release -- Most consumers do not fully recognize the unique nutrition benefits that meat and poultry offer, according to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll for the American Meat Institute (AMI).

Only 12% of consumers correctly identified animal products like meat and poultry as the only natural source of vitamin B12, which keeps the nervous system healthy. Some 20% said cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower were the natural source of B12, and 13% thought the correct answer was citrus fruit. Neither of these foods contain vitamin B12.

The Harvard Health Blog reports, "Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that 3.2% of adults over age 50 have a seriously low B12 level, and up to 20% may have a borderline deficiency."

AMI's survey also showed consumers do not know the body absorbs more iron from meat and poultry than from other foods. Meat and poultry contain "heme" iron, the most absorbable form, but 52% of consumers incorrectly thought the body absorbed the most iron from spinach, kale and other leafy greens, which are high in iron, but contain the less absorbable "non-heme" form. Only 17% correctly named meat, poultry and fish. Adequate iron intake is important because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies iron deficiency anemia as the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States.   

When asked which food groups Americans consume at the recommended levels, one in three (31%) consumers said the protein group. According to USDA, this group, which includes meat, poultry, seafood and beans is the only one consumed in the correct amount. Some 22% answered grains; 21% answered dairy, and 20% answered fats, oils and sweets. Half of consumers (48%) said they did not know.

These findings are similar to recent research by NPD Group, which found that most consumers agree that protein is necessary in a healthy diet, but three quarters of consumers said they did not know the recommended daily amount . In general, men and women need between 46-56g of protein per day.  

The American Meat Institute Foundation has released a dietitian-authored brochure, "Meat:  A Key Player on Your Wellness Team," that details meat and poultry's nutrition benefits and how it can be part of healthy, balanced diet.  The brochure may be downloaded or requested by sending a 4 x6 self-addressed envelope with .69 cents postage to Nutrition Brochure/AMI, 1150 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC, 20036.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of AMI from March 24-26, 2014, among 2,167 adults ages 18 and older.