A recent study by the World Health Organization suggests that a high intake of red meat could possibly cause colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer or pancreatic cancer. Other findings showed the high risk of a carcinogenic effect on those who consume large amounts of red meat. Similarly, processed meat was found to be “carcinogenic to humans” based on “sufficient evidence” that the intake of processed meats is a direct cause of colorectal cancer.
Red meat is defined by the World Health Organization as “all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as veal, beef, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.”
Processed meat is defined as “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal or meat-by-products such as blood. Examples of processed meats include hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef and beef jerky, as well as canned meats and meat-based preparations and sauces.”
While these findings indicate that people should try to avoid red and processed meat, it is not recommended to completely cut red meat in particular from one’s diet. However, the warnings given against processed meat raise a few flags and pose several questions.
Processed meat is generally the cheapest and easiest meat for the public to access, but the projected damaging effects may result in different packaging with warning labels to inform those buying it of its potential harm. This suggestion has been met with a great amount of pushback from the corporations that it would affect.
However, a large problem with these findings is that untreated meat is generally quite expensive compared to processed meats, with the availability being relatively low as well. Ideally, these findings would convince the public to consume less processed meat, increasing the demand for more untreated and natural options, resulting in a gradual lowering in cost for those options. Warning labels could potentially increase the public’s awareness of the dangers of red and processed meat, resulting in a gradual push for healthier meat options.
Whether or not warning labels do become a required part of meat packaging, steps should be taken to inform the public of the potential dangers of the consumption of red and processed meat. The recently discovered carcinogenic effect of these kinds of meat should be treated with the same level of severity as cigarettes, alcohol and other carcinogens that the public are widely warned about avoiding.