FAO highlights contribution of animal-sourced foods to healthy diets

Currently available plant-based found to be nutritionally deficient
calendar icon 13 May 2023
clock icon 1 minute read

FAO’s Committee on Agriculture requested a comprehensive, science- and evidence-based global assessment of the contribution of livestock to food security, sustainable food systems, nutrition and healthy diets, considering environmental, economic and social sustainability. The FAO recently published the final report, entitled Contribution of terrestrial animal-sourced food to healthy diets for improved nutrition and health. 

The report recognised the importance of terrestrial animal source food (TASF) proteins, adding that they contain important fatty acids and various vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc, sele- nium, Vitamin B12, choline and calcium, among others.

Its key messages highlight the important role animal source foods play in healthy diets.

"Science related to TASF alternatives, including plant-based food and cell-cultured “meat”, is relatively new," the report said. "Evidence suggests that these products cannot replace TASF in terms of nutritional composition."

"Microalgae are highly regarded as a TASF alternative because of their rich nutritional composition and the advantages they may offer as a natural carbon sink," the report continued." Nevertheless, plant-based meat alternatives that are widely available on the market have been found to be deficient in some essential nutrients and high in saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Further research is also needed to complete food-safety risk assessment for cell-cultured “meat” produced at industrial scale."

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