Objective: To evaluate the impact of the disaggregation of composite foods on intake estimates of meat and individual meat categories and on the contribution of meat to nutrient intakes in Irish adults.
Design: Data were analysed from the North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey, which used a 7-day food diary to estimate food intake. Of 742 food codes that contained meat, 320 were codes for meat consumed as an individual portion and 422 were composite foods and were disaggregated to estimate the meat content. Subjects: A nationally representative sample of 475 men and 483 women ( not pregnant or lactating) from the Republic of Ireland aged 18-64 years.
Results: The mean intake of meat was 134 g day 21 in consumers (98.5%) and men (168 g day(-1)) consumed significantly more (P < 0.001) than women (102 g day(-1)). Mean intakes of meat were higher in subjects with manual skilled occupations (P < 0.01) and lower in those with third-level educational qualifications (P < 0.05). Without disaggregating meat from composite foods, meat intake was overestimated by 43% (57 g day(-1)) and varied widely by meat category. Meat disaggregated from composite foods contributed 25% of meat intake. The contribution meat made to nutrient intakes ranged from 29% for protein, vitamin B-12, zinc and niacin to 20% for vitamin D, 16% for vitamin B-6, 15% for thiamine and 14% for iron.
Conclusions: Failure to disaggregate meat from composite foods substantially overestimates meat intake, with a large variation between meat categories. This has important implications for estimates of meat intakes in nutritional epidemiological studies and for food safety purposes.