Supermarket ham and bacon may contain ‘pointless’ chemicals linked to cancer




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Supermarket ham and bacon may contain ‘pointless’ chemicals that are linked to cancer, leaked report reveals

  • Some meats contain nitrites that are used to preserve the foods and kill bacteria
  • These are also used to maintain the meats pink colour because it looks better 
  • But a leaked report for the British Meat Processors Association suggests they have no effect on botulinum bacteria
  • Nitrites have been linked to some cancers but may be a ‘pointless’ preservative

Chemicals linked to cancer in processed ham and bacon do not need to be used, a leaked report has revealed.

Many of the meats on supermarket shelves contain nitrites – which are both a powerful preservative and are supposed to kill botulinum bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.

However, research for the British Meat Processors Association by the scientific consultancy Campden has revealed that nitrites do not attack the bug.

Nitrites put in meats to kill bacteria and maintain their pink colour may be 'pointless' as they don't kill one of their targets, botulinum bacteria, and have been linked to cancer

Nitrites put in meats to kill bacteria and maintain their pink colour may be ‘pointless’ as they don’t kill one of their targets, botulinum bacteria, and have been linked to cancer

Some brands produce bacon, ham and sausages using traditional processes without the controversial chemicals.

But there are concerns that other food companies use nitrites because they maintain the meat’s pink colour, which is deemed to be more appealing for shoppers.

A 2015 study backed by the World Health Organisation first linked nitrite-cured processed meats to cancer.

Baroness Walmsley, vice-chairman of Parliament’s all-party group on cancer, said: ‘This evidence raises serious questions about why nitrites are being added to our bacon and ham.’

Baroness Walmsley, vice-chairman of Parliament’s all-party group on cancer, said: ‘This evidence raises serious questions about why nitrites are being added to our bacon and ham’

Baroness Walmsley, vice-chairman of Parliament’s all-party group on cancer, said: ‘This evidence raises serious questions about why nitrites are being added to our bacon and ham’



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