Even before the official report on whether red meat would be classified as a carcinogen was released by the IARC, I was approached by a fellow mom on the soccer field this weekend. Knowing that I work in the meat industry, she hit me with, “So I hear meat causes cancer!”
And so it begins… again. According to Meatingplace, “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has concluded that processed meat is carcinogenic to humans and that red meat is probably carcinogenic to humans.”
It doesn’t take long for the media to shorten that finding into the kind of inflammatory headline I heard on the soccer sideline. No matter that the IARC reviewed a total of 940 agents for their potential to cause cancer: the only one getting any attention is red meat. (Other potential cancer-causing agents, according to the IARC’s report, include air and sun – really.)
Meat, as usual, continues to be an easy target. So whether you’re a packer, processor, retailer or allied industry supplier, you’re likely to face questions about these findings like I have. This is a prime opportunity to review the scientific data in our arsenal that helps promote red meat’s excellent nutritional value.
The industry response thus far has been swift and smart, with both NAMI and NCBA weighing in with comments that give much-needed perspective on and context to the rulings. A Q&A document presented by the IARC that delves deeper into the report also notes that their cancer-causing classifications don’t assess the level of risk, a critical point in the discussion that is often lost in the media frenzy.
To help you fight the provocative headlines closer to home, we’ve pulled together a few resources you can review to educate yourself, your customers, your consumers, and maybe even the woman sitting next to you at your kid’s soccer game.
Risk Bites Video: What does “Probably Cause Cancer” actually mean?
Meatingplace: IARC issues carcinogen ratings on processed, red meat
Meatingplace Issues Story: The Next Cut