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Carcinogenic chemicals in numerous meat products
"Stop adding cancer-causing chemicals to our ham," an international alliance of renowned scientists, nutritionists and politicians is calling on the meat industry. As early as 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided clear evidence that added nitrites in meat products such as bacon and ham increase the risk of developing colon cancer. In 2017, this was confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Nevertheless, almost nothing has happened so far, the expert committee criticizes.
An international group of nutrition experts led by the food scientist Professor Chris Elliott and that of the well-known English cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra calls on the meat industry to take more responsibility. According to the experts, nitrites in meat are responsible for 6,600 colon cancer diseases in Great Britain alone. The committee compares the behavior of the meat industry with that of the tobacco companies.
Known for a long time, but nothing happens
The WHO cancer analysis published in 2015 provided evidence that processed meat is linked to 34,000 colon cancers worldwide each year. Nitrites and nitrosamines were identified as the probable cause. EFSA confirmed this in 2017 and issued a warning. Two other recently published studies have also raised concerns. Glasgow University researchers have analyzed data from 262,195 British women and found that cutting out processed meat products lowers the risk of breast cancer. In addition, a study by the John Hopkins University of Medicine showed that nitrites increase the risk of mental health problems.
Experts call for regulatory measures
"The government should implement measures to remove nitrites from processed meat," Dr. Malhotra. The meat industry must now act quickly, otherwise it will have to deal with a public image similar to that of the tobacco industries. Several politicians and experts in nutritional and cancer research joined the statement.
Aren't the warnings taken seriously?
The committee criticizes that not enough is being done to raise consumer awareness of nitrites and the associated health risks in our meat products. The meat industry, on the other hand, claims that nitrites are important for preventing botulism (meat poisoning) and for combating germs. Like Dr. Aseem Malhotra emphasizes that the nitrite products such as bacon and ham have an attractive pink color, which is why they are also often used for production. He highlights some Parma ham manufacturers that have successfully produced ham without nitrites for 25 years.
First improvements in sight
Some manufacturers have already reacted to this and are producing alternative sausages without nitrites. The committee recommends that consumers should increasingly rely on such products when buying them. (vb)