Processed red meat: no safe limit

It has long been known that processed red meat products – such as bacon, sausages, ham and pepperoni – are bad for human health.

Their high saturated fat and salt content have been linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and stroke. But there is now considerable scientific evidence that such products also increase the risk of developing bowel cancer, the second biggest cause of cancer-related deaths in the UK after lung cancer.

Whilst there are measures in place to protect the public from the harmful effects of smoking, no such measures currently exist for processed red meat. Animal Aid believes that, as a result, the following should be adopted:

  • Health warnings for processed red meat products at their point of sale – either on the packaging itself or on the menu in restaurants and food outlets – alerting people to the increased risk of bowel cancer
  • A ban on the sale of processed red meat products to people under the age of 18
  • The removal of processed red meat products from hospital menus

Such measures are needed to ensure consumers are properly informed about the food they are buying, as well as to protect children and those who are already ill from the harmful effects of processed red meat products. It would also bring them in line with that other major product linked to cancer – tobacco. You can read more about this campaign by downloading our new No Safe Limit report.

Read the 'No Safe Limit' report

Sample Letter to Jeremy Hunt MP

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Health Department of Health Richmond House 79 Whitehall London SW1A 2NS Dear Mr Hunt There is now strong scientific evidence that eating processed red meat products, such as bacon and sausages, increases the risk of developing bowel cancer – the second biggest cause of cancer related deaths in the UK after lung cancer. More than 15,000 people die each year from bowel cancer, and many survivors require long-term care. I strongly urge you to work with your government colleagues to regulate the sale of processed red meat in line with carcinogenic tobacco products by:

  • Introducing health warning labels for processed red meat products that alert consumers to the increased risk of bowel cancer
  • Banning the sale of processed red meat products to children
  • Removing processed red meat products from hospital menus

With bowel cancer treatment costing the NHS £1.1bn every year, such a move could save money as well as lives. Yours sincerely