French health officials said on Tuesday they had confirmed a link between nitrates added to processed meat and colon cancer, in a blow to the country’s valuable ham and sausage industry.
National food safety agency Anses said its study of data released on the issue supports similar conclusions by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015.
Anses “recommends reducing consumption of the nitrate and nitrite ranges by deliberately limiting exposure from food consumption,” it said in a statement.
Nitrates are added to a number of food products to improve their shelf life and flavor and to give pork products their pink coloration.
France is one of the world’s largest producers of cold cuts, known locally as ‘cured meats’ and often eaten as snacks or with early evening drinks.
The government immediately announced that later this year it would present an action plan to reduce the use of the additives.
“The point is to limit their use to what is absolutely necessary,” said a joint statement by the health and agriculture ministers. “The reduction must be done in a balanced manner that ensures food security for the consumer.”
The 2015 WHO warning made global headlines after the UN agency’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that processed meat should be classified as a Group 1 carcinogen.
The warning applied to all processed meats, from bacon, which is eaten in large quantities in the US and UK, to Italian salami, Spanish chorizo, German bratwurst and French cured meats.
Anses said in his statement that reducing nitrates would lead to an increased risk of serious diseases such as botulism, listeria or salmonella.
But those dangers could be managed with shorter sell-by dates and modified manufacturing processes, she added.
“In the face of scientific evidence, the political class must act,” campaign group Foodwatch, the League Against Cancer and health-monitoring app Yuka said in a joint statement.
#Punch #french #ham #cold #cuts #nitrate #health #warning