Nearly all bacon and ham contain cancer-causing chemicals, say experts calling for Government action to raise awareness
Experts called for Government action to raise awareness in a similar way to campaigns on the health dangers from sugar and fatty foods
Healthy ham and bacon may be a thing of the past, as according to a shocking new report, experts have claimed that almost all bacon and ham contain cancer-causing chemicals. A senior food scientist and a top NHS doctor have reportedly joined forces to tackle the cancer risks that are involved with eating processed meats like bacon and ham.
The duo, who issued a joint statement, called for Government action to raise awareness on the issue, just like how authorities have led numerous campaigns on the health dangers from sugar and fatty foods. They cited "a growing consensus of scientific opinion" that nitrites in processed meats result in the production of the harmful chemicals, which is further believed to be responsible for bowel cancer.
Director of the Queen's University Belfast Institute for Global Food Safety Professor Chris Elliott, senior cardiologist Aseem Malhotra, along with leading nutritionist Chris Gill, were joined by politicians like Labour's Tom Watson in making the reported call for action. "There is a consensus of scientific opinion that nitrites in processed meats result in the production of carcinogenic nitrosamines — and therefore increase cancer risk for those who regularly consume traditional bacon and ham," they said.
"For these reasons, we are concerned that not enough is being done to raise awareness of nitrites in our processed meat and their health risks, in stark contrast to warnings regularly issued regarding sugar and fattening foods. A united and active front is needed from policy-makers, the food industry, and the cancer-care community."
The report continued, "We must work together to raise awareness of their risks and encourage the much wider use of nitrite-free alternatives that are safer and can reduce the number of cancer cases."
According to Dr. Malhotra, the inability to act on harm from nitrites risked comparisons with the tobacco industry, and their past refusal to accept the dangers posed by cigarettes. "Nitrites are used to cure bacon and ham, but when the meat is cooked and ingested by humans they create nitrosamines," he said.
Dr. Malhotra continued, "When it comes to nitrosamines, there are no ifs, nor buts; they are carcinogenic. Yet, despite these facts, the vast majority of bacon on sale today still contains these dangerous carcinogens."
"Government action to remove nitrites from processed meats should not be far away. Nor can a day of reckoning for those who continue to dispute the incontrovertible facts. The meat industry must act fast, act now — or be condemned to a similar reputational blow to that dealt to tobacco."
Furthermore, Labour environment spokeswoman Kerry McCarthy urged the Government to "look closely at what it can be doing to raise awareness of the risks from these chemicals and persuade the food industry to make its bacon and ham safer". She added: "These chemicals do not have to be in our food — and in years to come I am sure we will look back in disbelief that we allowed their use for so long."