Germany: Poultry meat and eggs are produced sustainably and are important for a balanced diet


Poultry meat and eggs are essential parts of a healthy diet. They provide elementary nutrients and essential amino acids in equal measure. This makes them nutritionally extremely valuable foods. If the German Nutrition Society (DGE) only advocates 300 grams of meat per week and one egg per week in its current recommendation, it is ignoring the realities and is issuing a one-sided recommendation. “The health aspect must not lag behind environmental aspects and the DGE must not neglect its core mission,” criticizes the President of the Central Association of the German Poultry Industry (ZDG), Friedrich-Otto Ripke. The DGE had revised its consumption recommendations in order to take aspects such as sustainability and environmental impact into greater account in a newly developed mathematical optimization model.

Posted on Apr 25 ,00:10

Germany: Poultry meat and eggs are produced sustainably and are important for a balanced diet

The recommended amount of meat consumed does not correspond in any way to the national consumption trend, explains Ripke. In contrast to the falling meat consumption, the per capita consumption of poultry meat has increased by around 12 percent in the last 15 years and is currently at 22 kg and around 60 grams per day. The situation is similar with eggs: According to preliminary information from the Federal Information Center for Agriculture, per capita consumption rose from 230 to 236 eggs or 14.5 kg in 2023. This is the proven reality of life and, as is well known, eggs often serve as a healthy supplement to a vegetarian diet.

As Ripke points out, "poultry meat is rightly popular because it provides numerous elementary nutrients and is therefore a nutritionally extremely valuable food". The protein from poultry meat contains all essential amino acids and therefore has a particularly high biological value. In addition, the fat in poultry meat has a favorable composition due to its content of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The drastic reduction in poultry meat and eggs in the revised consumption recommendations raises the question of how a sufficiently high protein supply and quality can be guaranteed in the future. Ripke also criticizes the fact that the new recommendations are aimed exclusively at healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65; for example, they do not apply to children, young people and seniors. “Dietary recommendations that are only suitable for part of the family are misleading and therefore not without danger. "That simply cannot work in everyday life", said the ZDG President. 

Ripke notes that poultry farming can also be viewed favorably from a sustainability perspective. Poultry production in particular has an extremely favorable climate balance. 94% of the feed that is fed in Germany would also be produced in Germany. In this context, Ripke clearly rejected the debate about an increase in food competition from animal husbandry. Instead, he makes it clear that sustainable food production relies on animal husbandry. Numerous by-products and by-products, which also arise in plant-based food production, are used as animal feed and thus prevent food waste.

Contrary to its claim to do justice to the multidimensionality of the topic, the DGE only included a few facets of sustainability in its calculations: According to the ZDG, it considers emissions and land use in the production of certain (animal) foods - fresh water consumption, for example. However, vegetarian or vegan production is excluded. The "animal welfare" factor is also left out "because it is difficult to operationalize for use in quantitative models", criticizes Ripke. Domestic poultry can demonstrably score points in both criteria: on the one hand through modern, resource-saving production and short transport routes - on the other hand through responsible poultry farming with voluntary animal welfare standards that are among the highest in the world.

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