Objections to a marketing campaign that linked red meat to healthy eating have been rejected by the advertising watchdog.
The £1.5 million “Eat Balanced” adverts from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) played up the “essential nutrients” and vitamins found in meat and dairy.
They drew outrage from animal welfare groups The Humane League UK and Peta, who said the adverts were “misleading”.
The AHDB falsely suggested that meat and dairy was needed to eat healthily, they argued.
Its campaign also “misleading implied” that most British livestock was reared outdoors.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) struck down the complaints.
It ruled that the adverts did not claim eating meat or dairy was “required” for a balanced diet.
“There was nothing in the ads to suggest that consumers should consume meat or dairy in proportions that went beyond NHS health and nutrition advice,” the watchdog noted.
Although the adverts showed animals grazing on open fields, “there was nothing to suggest that all cattle, pigs and sheep in the UK were kept in similar conditions”.
Around nine in 10 farms use a mixture of housed and grazing systems for their cattle.
AHDB communications chief Christine Watts hailed the “landmark ruling” as an “important day” for British farming.
She continued: “We work hard to ensure our campaigns are robust and evidence-based.”
“We can continue to communicate the benefits around consuming red meat and dairy as part of a balanced diet.”