Americans have known for years that eating processed meats, such as hot dogs and lunch meats, is not the best nutritional choice. What many do not know is that the World Cancer Research Fund (the WCRF) has made it official. According to the WCRF, commercial processed meats are “too dangerous for human consumption.” Our Chicago personal injury lawyers urge consumers to follow take this proclamation seriously.
The WCRF reached this conclusion after conducting an exhaustive and comprehensive review of the available research: over 7,000 clinical studies dealing with the interaction of diet and cancer. What they found was shocking enough to cause them to issue their proclamation against processed meats.
For example, one study conducted by the University of Hawaii and included in the WCRF’s review found that eating processed meats increases the risk of pancreatic cancer by an astounding 67%. Likewise, a person who consumes 50 grams of processed meat daily (which is admittedly a great deal) increases her risk of colorectal cancer by 50%.
It was these and other similar shocking figures that lead to the WCRF’s classification and recommendations. Those recommendations surprised many: the WCRF does not urge consumers to restrict their intake of these foods, eat them in moderation, or even eat them as an occasional indulgence. Instead, the WCRF urges consumers to immediately and completely remove these foods from their diets.
Processed meats include any meat product with added sodium nitrate, an extremely commonly-used preservative. Sodium nitrate is the additive used to give commercially-processed red meat a lasting pink or red tint, so that it appears fresh. It is virtually never found in chicken or fish, but is commonly used in:
- hot dogs
- lunch meats, especially those used at chain sandwich shops
- frozen meats
- frozen bacon
- many sausages
- pepperoni, especially on frozen pizzas
- beef jerky
- kids’ meals
- canned soups with red meat
- ravioli and meat pasta
- nearly all red meats served at public schools, hospitals, restaurants, and hotels.
What is truly shocking is that the WCRF issued this proclamation not this week, not this month, but in 2007. Yet, in spite of this, our federal regulators have still taken no action to address this serious threat to the nation’s health.
The reason is obvious: processed meats are everywhere, and they are big business. In fact, the USDA tried to ban sodium nitrate back in the 1970′s – before the problem had become as pervasive as it is today. That effort, however, was blocked by the lobbyists and cash of the meat and food industries.
But now, with literally decades more research confirming what the USDA knew in the 1970s, why has our government failed to act? Why, three years after the WCRF’s comprehensive review and proclamation, have the FDA and the USDA not taken action? The almighty dollar, of course.
Our Chicago products liability attorneys urge the FDA and USDA to again take up this issue, and to do what is necessary to protect the public. It is these agencies’ job, after all, to regulate the industries – not to allow them to dictate policy in order to enhance their profits at the expense of public health.
In the meantime, we must each take responsibility for our own health. Avoiding these foods is not as simple as it seems: labels must be read carefully to detect the presence of sodium nitrate, which is often hidden as a secondary ingredient (listed in a parenthetical after a primary ingredient) or even listed as a “preservative.” Additionally, increasing our consumption of produce may help – in addition to fruits and vegetables’ other healthy properties, there is some evidence that vitamin C (found in citrus fruits and many berries) can help to offset the damage done by processed meats.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.