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Health Swiss producers reject meat warnings

The Swiss Meat Industry Association does not expect people to eat less bratwurst after a WHO study warning of cancer risks in processed foods.

(Keystone)

Switzerland's meat producers’ association on Monday described a World Health Organization (WHO) study linking the consumption of processed meat to an increased chance of developing cancer, as “old wine in new casks.”

The WHO studyexternal link, published earlier in the day, said eating 50 grams of processed meat, such as bacon, sausages or ham, increased the incidence of colorectal cancer by 18%. It added that red meats were “probably carcinogenic,” but that detailed evidence was still lacking.

Ruedi Hadorn, director of the Swiss Meat Industry Associationexternal link, said he did not expect Swiss meat consumption, including cervelat and bratwurst sausages to fall, adding that meat was part of a balanced diet.

“Since many years ago, the discussion was launched within the Federal Commission for Nutrition,” Hadorn said. “There are studies that prove the opposite conclusions to those of the WHO.”

Kurt Straif, an official with the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which produced the report, explained, “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed.”

Hadorn further criticised the WHO as being weak due to its use, he said, of data originating from other studies. “These types of conclusions should always be taken prudently, as various risk factors exist for cancer, and it is difficult to isolate a single one.”

The WHO publication was based on 800 studies, which concluded that there were “sufficient indications according to which the consumption of processed meat provoked colorectal cancer.”

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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