Public health implications of meat production and consumption
The high level of meat and saturated fat consumption in the USA and other high-income countries exceeds nutritional needs and contributes to high rates of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and some cancers. Affluent citizens in middle- and low-income countries are adopting similar high-meat diets and experiencing increased rates of these same chronic diseases. The industrial agricultural system, now the predominant form of agriculture in the USA and increasingly world-wide, has consequences for public health owing to its extensive use of fertilisers and pesticides, unsustainable use of resources and environmental pollution. In industrial animal production there are public health concerns surrounding feed formulations that include animal tissues, arsenic and antibiotics as well as occupational health risks and risks for nearby communities. It is of paramount importance for public health professionals to become aware of and involved in how our food is produced.