WHO Says Processed Meats May Lead to Cancer, Meat Industry Disagrees

By  | 

Bacon lovers beware. The World Health Organization says new research links processed meats to cancer.

But the meat industry says those findings are flawed.

The North American Meat Institute said in a written statement that, "Classifying red and processed meat as cancer 'hazards' defies both common sense and numerous studies, which show no correlation."

Cloverdale Meats in Mandan says there could be some links, but that doesn't offset the nutritional benefits that meat provides.

However, health experts say the preservative in those products is what can be labeling the ham in your sandwich as a risk.

On an average day at Cloverdale Meats 555,000 pounds of sausage, bacon and other meats are processed in the plant.

It's a number that the companies executive president says won't go down because of the new findings from the World Health Organization.

"The market hasn't responded that way. There is not any euphoria. Business is going to continue as usual," said Scott Russell, executive vice president of Cloverdale Meats.

Russell says there are too many factors like balancing your diet and lifestyle choices to blame processed and red meat.

"Scientists don't have the smoking gun in the room to say it's that thing," Russell said.

Processed meat is in the same cancer-causing category as cigarettes. The preservatives are what have health experts concerned.

"Pretty crazy to think about it when you think about those chemicals are as serious as the chemicals you have in smoking cigarettes," said Jill Henley, clinical dietitian.

Smoking can increase a persons risk for cancer by as much as 20 times. However, that doesn't mean bacon is as dangerous.

"There are requirements in place to make sure what we provide is wholesome, nutritional and provides those types of benefits you know for our diets and our regime," Russell said.

Studies show people who eat excessive amounts of those processed meats may be have a doubled risk of getting colon cancer than those who don't.

"What is recommended is less then 18 ounces per week, so when you think about it it's probably one to two servings per week is what's recommended," Henley said.

Portion control is key, and while it may be hard to resist Henley says to enjoy things like bacon as a treat.

Cloverdale Meats says it's been working on putting more natural preservative in their products, which should be ready by 2016.