Bacon: The new tobacco?

Animal Feed for Thought

Jackie Roembke, editor of Feed Strategy magazine, offers her perspective on happenings in the global feed and grain industries.

Bacon: The new tobacco?

As consumers react to WHO report, will red meat markets see slump?

Today, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report rating the correlation between consumption of certain types of meat products to colorectal cancers. The processing of said proteins, i.e. curing, fermenting, etc., ups the exposure to carcinogens and stamps the tasty treats in the same group rating (Group 1 on 1 to 4 scale) as smoking. Smoking. Let’s say it out loud … Eating sausage = smoking a pack of cigarettes.

I’m clutching my pearls whilst frying my potentially lethal bacon.

Even more shocking, red meat, delicious, glorious RED MEAT (preferably served rare if I have any say in it) ranks as a Group 2A carcinogen. To decifer this coding system, “probably carcinogenic to humans” or on par with, you know, pesticides.

But, never fear, the threat of illness hinges on the amount you consume. Or as some like to call it, Healthy Living 101: Moderation. 

As news of this study spreads, the question is, will the red meat sector feel the effects? Perhaps. As we know, food fads and special reports of this nature tend to send the consumer into a frenzy, but aren’t we all starting to become desensitized to this sort of announcement? Doesn’t it seem like every other week something we consume is poised to kill us? Salt. Butter. Margarine. Sugar. Air. Water.

Really, it reaches a point where you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re doomed. Oh wait, eventually, aren’t we all?

Anyway, I haven’t seen too many animal agriculture responses to the study (yet), but the folks at the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) were quick on the draw, stating in a press release: “classifying red and processed meat as cancer 'hazards' defies both common sense and numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer and many more studies showing the many health benefits of balanced diets that include meat.” 

However, talk of the basic principles of a balanced diet doesn’t make for sensational headlines, does it?