Wednesday 4th November 2015

The meat producers at the market had to put up with a bit of a grilling (ha ha) last week after the World Health Organisation report linking processed meat (and red meat) to colon type cancers. Popular choices of the headlines were concerning the consumption of bacon, hot dogs and ham. As for bacon; the WHO listed it alongside cigarettes, alcohol, asbestos, plutonium and salted fish as “has link to cancer”. Unfortunately there is no rating system within the WHO system; the agency has created a hodgepodge of probable and possible carcinogens that borders on silly: pickled vegetables, coffee, cellphones, frying, working as a barber (think hair dye) and now red meat. Of the more than 900 potential carcinogens the W.H.O. has evaluated since 1971, it has determined that only one — a nylon-manufacturing chemical found in drinking-water supplies — is “probably not” carcinogenic. Most of the discussion at the market was more focused on the difference between the processed meats cheaply available in supermarkets as compared to the “processed” meat at the market. There is no surprise that a sausage purchased at the market costs substantially more than those in a 10 pack from the supermarket; it’s what’s in them; pulp and offal is cheap, meat is expensive! Humans have been eating red meat forever and from what I see on a Saturday I don’t think a scare report from the WHO is going to change that in a hurry!

Even the most strident anti-meat crusader knows that eating bacon is not as risky as smoking or asbestos exposure. Smoking raises a person’s lifetime risk of developing lung cancer by a staggering 2,500 percent. Meanwhile, two daily strips of bacon, based on the associations identified by the W.H.O., would translate to about a 6 percent lifetime risk for colon cancer, up from the 5 percent risk for people who don’t enjoy bacon or other processed meats. Come and get yourself a hot dog or a burger on Saturday from Adeys or Hinton Marsh!