Well, another day another new report suggesting yet another food group is going to kill us all! The assertion overnight from the World Health Organisation that processed meats like bacon and sausages cause cancer, and red meats probably do too – will have butchers around the globe in a panic. It’s silly, alarmist and above all else probably not aimed at the average consumer who understands the word ‘moderation’.
The new research garnered from experts from 20 countries looking at cancer causing foods concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.
The key word here is ‘daily’.
There is little doubt western countries are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and if the announcement today goes some way to fighting this statistic then that’s all good and well. However, a general branding of ‘all red meat causes cancer’ and other alarmist headlines today needs to be put into context.
What needs to be remembered is the experts determined that red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans” based on “limited evidence” it causes cancer.
The report also classifies processed meats, like bacon and sausages, as a Group 1 carcinogen based on “sufficient evidence” they cause bowel cancer.
Speaking on radio this morning Australian Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce said the idea that sausages could be labelled as lethal as cigarettes was ridiculous.
“No it shouldn’t be compared to cigarettes and obviously that makes the whole thing a farce – comparing sausages to cigarettes … “I don’t think that we should get too excited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer because you’re not.
“A lot of people to be honest don’t eat two slices of bacon a day, they don’t have bacon everyday and I think the biggest thing is to make sure you get a balanced diet.”
Exactly. Moderation is the key.
What is frightening though is the potential impact these kind of reports might have on industries involved in processing meats. After all, the Minister says if we followed the WHO advice on everything, we’d all be living in caves.