Should processed meat carry a cancer warning?

Monday, 05 December, 2016

US advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has called for a warning label on packages of bacon, ham, hot dogs and other processed meat and poultry products to inform consumers that eating those foods is associated with an increased risk of cancer of the colon and rectum (colorectal cancer). 

Citing the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which concluded in 2015 that processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans”, the health watchdog claims the US Department of Agriculture is obligated to require the industry to inform consumers about the risk of consuming processed meats.

“Consumers deserve these warning labels to help them make informed choices about the foods they eat,” said CSPI executive director Michael F Jacobson. “Consumers who want to reduce their cancer risk may avoid processed meats or eat them much less often; other people may simply ignore the label. But without question, USDA should give people that choice.”

CSPI is asking for labels of all meat and poultry products preserved by smoking, curing, salting and/or the addition of chemical preservatives to bear the warning message.

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