Meat industry gets set to rebuff WHO’s ruling on meat carcinogens

Meat industry gets set to rebuff WHO’s ruling on meat carcinogens

The likelihood that some processed meat products may be classed as carcinogenic by the cancer research arm of the World Health Organisation has caused strong reaction in the global meat industry.

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“Red and processed meat are among 940 substances reviewed by The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) found to pose some level of theoretical ‘hazard’,” said Barry Carpenter, president of The North American Meat Institute.

Professor Robert Pickard who sits on the UK’s Meat Advisory Panel, funded by AHDB, is reported in The Financial Times as saying: “Avoiding red meat in diet is not a protective strategy against cancer. Choosing a meat-free diet is a lifestyle choice; it is not vital for health.”

The FT’s report went on to indicate that even independent experts, in anticipation of the report, were cautious about the IARC’s claim. Professor Ian Johnson, an emeritus fellow at the UK’s Institute of Food Research said: “Although there is epidemiological evidence for a statistically significant association between processed meat consumption and bowel cancer, it is important to emphasise that the size of the effect is relatively small, and the mechanism is poorly defined.

“It is certainly very inappropriate to suggest that any adverse effect of bacon and sausages on the risk of bowel cancer is comparable to the dangers of tobacco smoke, which is loaded with known chemical carcinogens.”

Meat Management will bring you more industry reaction and detail on the report following its publication later on today and in its November magazine.

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