This cannot be good news for Sparks, Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris

April 29 - no_red_meatA newly-released study of more than 500,000 Americans confirms that men and women who consume the most red and processed meat are likely to die sooner, especially from heart disease and cancer. Results of the decade-long survey were published in a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

As a long-standing fan of fish, the news comes as comforting confirmation that I was right in withstanding all that peer pressure over the years from the Ed Moed's and Art Cody's of the world who'd say, 'C'mon Steve. You're at a steak house. Order a damn porterhouse!'

More to the point of this blog, thought, it'll be interesting to see how the meat packing plants, trade associations and multiple steak houses will deal with this news (not to mention good old McDonald's which, in this blogger's humble opinion, has done more damage to more arteries than any other entity in the history of mankind).

How will the pro-meat spin doctors spin these new facts? My guess is they'll trot out some medical shill who's been on some company's payroll for awhile. Taking a page out of the tobacco industry strategies of the 1960s, said 'medical expert' will present contrarian evidence proving that meat is a beautiful thing and, like those Wonder Bread commercials of yesteryear, '……helps build strong bodies in 12 ways.' (Note to Wonder Bread: What, exactly, were the 12 ways white bread helps build strong bodies?).

So, if you're a Peter Lugar, Morton's or Sparks Restaurant whose claims to fame are outrageously tasty steaks, what strategy makes the most sense?

- Aggressive counter-claims
- Reactive messaging to be trotted out only if, and when, the subject comes up, or
- Simply adopting a 'this too shall pass' philosophy?

Image aside, what are the moral and ethical implications of continuing to dish out a food product that has now been directly linked to disease? Do I see a Surgeon General's report in the making?

As for me, I'll continue to order the Dover Sole and keep my fingers crossed there isn't another study underway that links fish consumption to, say, leprosy.

6 thoughts on “This cannot be good news for Sparks, Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris

  1. Steve,
    That’s just one study. I’m sure there will be others to contradict it much in the way that eggs weren’t good for you years ago as well and then another study saw no problem with egg consumption.
    Same way with diets. South Beach Diet says you can eat all the whole eggs you want (don’t worry about the cholesterol). Yet, the China Study philosophy is not to eat anything from an animal — whether it’s meat, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese or other dairy products.
    Hey, how long did our parents live and did they subscribe to any of this medical advice? Heck no. First, they probably ate what they could afford and then they tried to prepare sensible meals.
    I believe it has to do with moderation. I don’t think folks eat red meat as a steady diet. Yes, there may be some but I don’t think many of us do.
    Secondly, we are finding out as a society that we are living longer, who knows how long Social Security will last, health care costs continue to rise at a rapid pace, etc. So, how much longer do you want to live. I believe the media age now is 85 for males and 87 for females. Heck, at that age I think it’s eat anything you want. That is, if you still have teeth to chew with.

  2. greg is right. moderation is key.
    with that, i believe most of the danger in red meat comes from the grilling process itself. nasty carcinogens form on the meat when it is charred too much and burns. so, those that like their meat well done (which is unconscionable anyway) are probably doing themselves a disservice when they think they are doing their body good.
    take it from this guy, BAKE your steak and then throw it on the grill for a few seconds if you need those aesthetically pleasing “grill lines.”
    also, does the US have a Surgeon General at present? I recall seeing that our top three health officials have yet to be appointed by the Prez. PBO has been too busy implementing his socialistic agenda, I suppose.

  3. Bake? Bake a steak? And then fire up the grill to get those lines. Why not just avoid burning the ever lovin’ crap out of it? Oh, and take your socialistic agenda to an appropriate blog. Or just throw it on the grill.

  4. Thanks Greg and Lunch. I defer to both of you on gastronomic matters. My concern is the image and reputation fallout that this report may cause. How, or will, the meat industry respond? What do you do when your product is directly linked to causing cancer and heart disease? Will they learn from tobacco industry mistakes? Will they go into complete denial mode? Or, will they choose the moderation course you two advocate? When I see the words cancer and heart disease, I steer clear, whether it’s red meat or tobacco. Btw, the word steer was an unintentional pun.

  5. Steve,
    There is an interesting book that came out last fall called Buy-ology. The basis of the book are findings based on 2,000 brain scans. One of the theories they challenged was the effect of cigarette warning labels. Here is a short excerpt:
    “In short, the fMRI results showed that cigarette warning labels not only failed to deter smoking, but by activating the nucleus accumbens, it appeared they actually encouraged smokers to light up. We couldn’t help but conclude that those same cigarette warning labels intended to curb smoking, reduce cancer, and save lives had instead become a killer marketing tool for the tobacco industry.”
    Maybe these reports aren’t such bad news after all for the folks in the meat business. All this talk has me thinking about a nice center cut filet.