Around six out of 10 people believe lean cuts of red meat contain more than 20% fat, even though the true level is less than half that amount, research suggests.
Two-thirds of more than 2,000 people questioned also think chicken has less fat than steak, despite this not always being the case.
Meatmatters, which is funded by the meat industry, carried out the survey. It said people had been led to believe meats like beef, lamb and pork are more unhealthy than they are.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has warned against people eating too much red or processed meat because of fears it increases chances of cancer.
Experts predict 3,700 cases of cancer could be prevented each year by people consuming less meat.
In particular, meats such as bacon, ham, salami and some sausages can increase the risk of bowel cancer, according to the WCRF.
The average person has a 5% risk of bowel cancer but this rises to 6% if they eat an extra 50g of processed meat per day.
Deputy head of science at the WCRF, Rachel Thompson, said: “Red meat does contain valuable nutrients. But regardless of fat content, there is convincing scientific evidence that red and processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer.”
Chris Lamb from Meatmatters said: “If you eat too much of anything, you are potentially doing harm to yourself. It is misleading to solely link eating a lot of meat to cancer.
“Even if people argued we were glossing over the dangers of eating meat, similarly they are glossing over the benefits of eating meat, of which there are an awful lot.”