Experts affirm safety and benefits of processed meats
American Meat Institute (AMI) Executive Vice President James Hodges underscored processed meats’ safety and condemned recent efforts by the vegan animal rights group Physicians Committee for Respo nsibl e Me dicin e (PCRM) to alarm the public. He made his remarks during a USDA listening session on the 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act held in Baltimore, MD. Hodges criticized PCRM’s national television ad campaign that features child actors claiming they have colon cancer. The ads cut to scenes of children eating processed meats at school.
“A factually inaccurate, alarmist and exploitive new campaign called the Cancer Project is aimed at scaring parents and school systems out of feeding children processed meats. It is just what those of us who know the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have come to expect from this pro-vegetarian animal rights group in doctor’s clothing,” Hodges said. “Only a small percentage of PCRM’s members are physicians.”
Hodges noted that PCRM cites a controversial and inconclusive report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) as representing “consensus” when it has been widely challenged by scientists. Studies showing no connection between processed meats and cancer were not included in the WCRF report cited by the PCRM/The Cancer Project. Hodges also noted that less than 5 percent of human nitrite intake comes from cured meats. Ninety-three per-
cent comes from vegetables and saliva. Numerous studies and experts show that processed meats are safe and nutritious and that nitrite in cured meats is safe, not carcinogenic, naturally produced by the body, and actually has health benefits.
“Children are notoriously picky eaters, but they enjoy many processed meats and derive essential vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids to the diet,” Hodges said. “Uneaten bowls of lentil artichoke stew or potato cauliflower curry (two of PCRM’s suggested recipes) contribute nothing to a child’s diet.
“Just as consumers need to eat a healthy, balanced diet, they need balanced information,” Hodges concluded.
“Check with credible health sources like your doctor, dietician, or the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. You can be assured that they will tell you that a healthy diet can include processed meats.”
In addition to Hodges’ testimony, AMI Foundation President Randy Huffman conducted an interview with CNN to dispel PCRM’s claims. An indepth article by Huffman on the subject has also appeared in Food Safety Magazine. — WLJ