A leaked report has revealed supermarket ham and bacon may have chemicals linked to cancer.
Many of the available meats on supermarket shelves have nitrates, which preserve the meat and kill botulinum bacteria to prevent food poisoning.
But according to the British Meat Processors Association, the nitrates don’t attack the bug.
Some brands produce sausages, bacon, and ham using traditional processes without the chemicals. However, there are concerns that many companies use nitrates as they maintain the meat’s pink color, which seemed to be more attractive to customers.
In a 2015 study backed by the World Health Organization, nitrate-cured processed meats were first linked to cancer.
Vice Chairman of Parliament’s all-party group on cancer, Baroness Walmsley, said: “This evidence raises serious questions about why nitrites are being added to our bacon and ham.”
Scientists and MPs are calling for bacon, ham and other processed meats to have chemical additives removed as they are believed to cause around 6,600 cases of bowel cancer in the United Kingdom every year.
Experts have known abut the risks of nitrites in processed meats for over half a century. However, shoppers have preferred to do nothing about it or haven’t been sufficiently alert to the danger.
In 1956, scientists John Barnes and Peter Magee tested the safety of nitrate-type chemicals. It was found that it causes liver cancer in rats.
By the mid-90s, it was found that nitrates were linked to human cancers such as brain tumors.
The WHO warned that consuming cured meats may cause an additional 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide.
But food companies fear that changing their manufacturing techniques would be a shock to consumers used to abundant and cheap food that is made fast with best-before dates.
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