KLA Today alerted members to Monday’s “Larry King Live” program on CNN about beef safety and nutrition. NCBA helped connect King’s show producers with University of Connecticut Professor of Nutritional Sciences Nancy Rodriguez. The American Meat Institute offered president and chief executive officer J. Patrick Boyle as a spokesperson. Both were interviewed extensively during the hour-long show, which included others with pro-animal protein views and those who support vegetarian diets.

The program began by focusing on children who passed away due to E. coli O157:H7 infections. Boyle did an admirable job, under the circumstances, highlighting the meat industry’s investment in safety interventions, technology and research. He reminded viewers, “The beef supply is safer today in terms of E. coli incidents than it was five years ago. It was safer five years ago than 10 years ago.”

Rodriguez shared her expertise about animal protein in the diet by citing a number of studies showing benefits to cardiovascular disease, weight management, blood glucose control in diabetics and even reducing blood pressure and hypertension. She debated T. Colin Campbell, vegetarian author of “The China Study.” He advocated a plant-based diet.

Jonathan Foer, another vegetarian author, opened a discussion about “factory farming.” Boyle corrected Foer’s use of the term by saying it is nothing more than a negative reference to high volume, low-cost, efficient meat and poultry production that gives Americans an abundance of safe and wholesome food products at reasonable prices.

Rodriguez closed by warning consumers and academia to be cautious about oversimplifying nutrition information. She suggested disease prevention and health are not just about what is eaten, but about exercise and other aspects of an overall lifestyle.

Overall, NCBA and KLA media specialists saw the program as fairly balanced, considering the circumstances. Despite the emotional tone of the show, both beef industry spokespersons were able to deliver numerous positive messages about safety and nutrition.

NCBA has mobilized Masters in Beef Advocacy graduates to engage in the “Larry King Live” blog discussion and the program’s dialogue on Facebook. The primary focus of these efforts is to correct misinformation about beef safety or other inaccurate claims. NCBA, KLA and the Kansas Beef Council will continue to monitor reaction to the show and respond where appropriate.

For more information visit www.kla.org.