Wed, Oct 28, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Linking sausages to tobacco risk ‘a farce’: Australia


One of the world’s top meat exporters, Australia, yesterday ridiculed a landmark UN report linking sausages and ham to cancer, saying it was “a farce” to suggest they could be as lethal as cigarettes.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) analyzed 800 studies from around the world and found that processed meats, such as sausages, bacon, ham and hot dogs, cause bowel cancer, and red meat “probably” does too.

It placed processed meat into its Group 1 category of carcinogens. Other substances in the group include alcohol, asbestos and tobacco.

“No, it should not be compared to cigarettes, and obviously that makes the whole thing a farce — comparing sausages to cigarettes,” Australian Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce told national radio. “I do not think that we should get too excited that if you have a sausage you are going to die of bowel cancer, because you are not. You just do not want to live on sausages.”

“Promoting red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet is important,” the Australian meat industry’s research and development corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia, said in a statement. “Red meat, such as beef and lamb, is a critical, natural source of iron and zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 — essential nutrients needed to keep the body and brain functioning well.”

Australians are among the biggest consumers of meat in the world. They also have the eighth-highest incidence of colorectal cancer globally, the World Cancer Research Fund said.

Cancer Council Australia estimates that red and processed meats are associated with about one in six bowel cancers diagnosed in the nation.

Meat producers elsewhere were also sceptical of the report, with the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) saying IARC “tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome.”

NAMI vice president Betsy Booren cited the high consumption of processed meats as part of the Mediterranean diet, yet “people in countries where the Mediterranean diet is followed, like Spain, Italy and France, have some of the longest lifespans in the world and excellent health.”

In Hong Kong, where bowel cancer is the No. 2 top-killing tumor, the food industry blasted the findings as “too rash,” saying they failed to specify what kind of preservatives and additives in processed meat are carcinogenic.

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