Last Tuesday, the National Food Safety Agency (ANSES) released a report explaining that: food additives, found in meat processed as charcuterie, because the cancer development. ANSES thus confirms “the existence of a link between the risk of colorectal cancer and exposure to nitrates and nitrites“.
It’s not not the first time that is processed meat accused of causing cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a body belonging to the World Health Organization – had the processed meat as carcinogenic in 2015. What are nitrites/nitrates and? how dangerous is it for our health?
Food additives in meat:
Nitrites and nitrates are present in our food in various forms according to ANSES. Naturally present “in soils (nitrogen cycle), the concentration of which can be enhanced by agricultural activitiesand in water resources”. used as food additives (E249, E250, E251, E252) in processed meats.
More than 50% of dietary exposure to nitrites come from the meat consumption. These additives serve to: save the meat and perishable products extend their lifespan and the prevention of development of “bacteria” such as listeria or salmonella.” It is thanks to these chemical components that the ham owes its pink color.
A real health hazard:
Once ingested, nitrates and nitrites generate nitrosated compounds in the digestive tractwhich are known for their genotoxic and carcinogenic natureANSES emphasizes in its research. A Frenchman consumes on average 39.4 g of meats per day. Eat 50 g of meats a day could increase the risk of cancer by 18% According to the WHO.
So the greater the consumption of charcuterie, the greater the risk of cancer. Especially since food additives are both: present in commercial ham than in artisanal charcuterie. And the “nitrite-free” ranges are no better for your health, according to the Agency.
“The higher the exposure to nitrates and nitrites, the greater the risk of cancer”, Mathieu Schuler
“The presence of nitrites in the body can lead tohemoglobin oxidation reduction in the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. She can too contribute to the formation of other compoundssuch as nitrosamines, including some are carcinogenic” explains Mathieu Schuler, deputy director general of the ANSES “Sciences for expertise” division.
What must we do ?
ANSES has proposed: several recommendations. The first is to reduce the use of nitrites and nitrates in meat products and in particular in charcuterie. And find other suitable solutions for each category of products in question.
“For example, for the cooked hamthe reduction of nitrites may be accompanied by: shortening the expiration date. For the dry hamthis would be a strict salt control and temperature during salt, rest and curing stages of the product,” the scientists write in the report.
And finally, reduce your meat consumption with a limit of 150 g per week, while using “a varied and balanced dietwith at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day of different originANSES adds.