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Government must act against cancer risk from chemicals in processed meat, experts demand

A senior food scientist and NHS chief physician joined politicians from all over Parliament to demand anti-cancer measures for processed meats such as bacon and ham.

In a joint statement, they called for government action to raise awareness similar to campaigns on health hazards from sugar and fatty foods.

They referred to the "growing consensus of scientific opinion" that nitrites in processed meat lead to the development of carcinogenic nitrosamines, which are believed to be responsible for bowel cancer.

A 2015 report by the World Health Organization classified processed meat as a first-class carcinogen that can cause an additional 34,000 cancer deaths worldwide per year. The new analysis suggests that this could amount to 6,600 cases of bowel cancer in the UK each year.

The directors of the Belfast Institute of Global Food Safety at Queen's University, Professor Chris Elliott, senior cardiologist Asem Malhotra, and lead dietician at the University of Ulster Chris joined political figures, including Labor deputy leader Tom Watson, who called for action.

“There is a consensus of scientific opinion that nitrites in processed meat lead to the development of carcinogenic nitrosamines and, therefore, increase the risk of developing cancer in those who regularly consume traditional bacon and ham,” they said.

“For these reasons, we are concerned that not enough is being done to increase awareness of nitrites in our processed meat and their health risks, which contrasts sharply with the warnings regularly published regarding sugar and fats.

“We need a united and active front on the part of politicians, the food industry and the cancer treatment community.”

“We must work together to raise awareness of their risks and encourage greater use of non-nitrite alternatives that are safer and can reduce the incidence of cancer.”

Доктор Малхотра сказал, что отказ от доказательств вреда, вызванного нитритами, ставит под угрозу сравнение с прошлым отказом табачной промышленности принять опасность, создаваемую сигаретами.

“Nitrites are used to treat bacon and ham, but when meat is cooked and digested by humans, they create nitrosamines,” he said. «Когда дело доходит до нитрозаминов, здесь нет ифтов, но они канцерогенные.

“Nevertheless, despite these facts, the vast majority of the bacon sold today still contains these dangerous carcinogens. Не только это, напоминающее позицию табачной промышленности в 1990-х годах, некоторые из тех, кто занимается производством и регулированием пищевых продуктов, продолжают утверждать, что риски для здоровья от мяса, вылеченного нитритами, незначительны.

“Government actions to remove nitrite from processed meat should not be far away. Не может быть и дня расплаты для тех, кто продолжает оспаривать неопровержимые факты».

«Мясная индустрия должна действовать быстро, действовать сейчас – или быть обречена на аналогичный репутационный удар по табаку».

Dr. Malhotra rejected industry claims that nitrites are necessary to preserve processed meat, pointing to the exclusion of chemicals from Parma ham production and the use of alternative natural processes by manufacturers such as Nestle in France and Finnebrogue in the UK.

Другой подписавший это заявление бывший представитель Министерства труда Керри Маккарти настоятельно призвал правительство «внимательно посмотреть на то, что оно может сделать, чтобы повысить осведомленность о рисках, связанных с этими химическими веществами, и убедить пищевую промышленность сделать свой бекон и ветчину более безопасными».

Она добавила: «Эти химические вещества не должны присутствовать в нашей пище – и через несколько лет я уверен, что мы оглянемся назад с недоверием, что мы позволили их использовать так долго».

The call to action also indicated their names as chairman of the general parliamentary group on food and health, conservative deputy Sir David Ames; Commons Environmental Audit Committee Chairman Mary Creag; Vice Chairman of the All-Party Cancer Parliamentary Group and Peer Liberal Democrat Baroness Walmsley; Conservative MEP John Proctor, member of the food safety committee of the European Parliament; and Wendy McCall, Chairman of the Cancer Foundation for Children.

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