International health experts are set to list processed meat among the most cancer-causing substances in the world, including arsenic and asbestos. The World Health Organization (WHO) will also be listing fresh red meat in the “encyclopedia of carcinogens,” ranked as only slightly less dangerous than preserved products such as bacon, sausages, and burgers.
The report is set to release Monday and will be a shock to the meat industry — everyone, from farmers to fast food chains, will be affected by the news. The WHO issued a warning about sugar overconsumption last year, resulting in a fall in sugar sales, which could be an indicator of what’s to come for the meat industry. The ruling could lead to warning labels and altered dietary guidelines to signal the issue.
The Department of Health’s advisers said both processed and fresh red meat “probably” cause cancer, but the WHO will be placing processed meat in the “carcinogenic to humans” category, along with cigarettes and alcohol. The decision was made after scientists from around the world met up to review evidence on the matter.
The North American Meat Institute claimed the report was neither logical nor necessary.
“Red and processed meat are among 940 substances reviewed by International Agency for Research (IARC) and found to pose some level of theoretical ‘hazard,’” Barry Carpenter, president of the North American Meat Institute, told the Daily Mail. “IARC says you can enjoy your yoga class, but don’t breathe air, sit near a sun-filled window, drink wine or coffee, eat grilled food, or apply aloe vera.”
Barry said that the risks and benefits of a food or behavior must be weighed together before telling everyone what to do.
Current guidelines include the recommendation that adults eat no more than 70g of red meat a day, and the World Cancer Research Fund said that processed meat should be avoided altogether.
This article was republished with permission from Medical Daily.
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