WHO clarifies position on meat consumption

by Erica Shaffer
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The World Health Organization plans to reexamine the role of red and processed meats in a healthy diet.

GENEVA – The World Health Organization plans to reexamine the role of processed meats and red meat in a healthy diet. The organization responded to “a number of queries, expressions of concern and requests for clarification” following the release of a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that classified processed meats as carcinogenic to humans and red meat as “probably carcinogenic.”

In a statement, WHO said “IARC’s review confirms the recommendation in WHO’s 2002 “Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases” report, which advised people to moderate consumption of preserved meat to reduce the risk of cancer. The latest IARC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats but indicates that reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.”

WHO added a group of standing experts will meet in 2016 to examine the public health implications of the latest science and the role of processed meats and red meat as part of a healthy diet.

In a blog post, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said red and processed meats have a clear role as part of a healthy diet when “nutrition benefits are included in the discussion.”

“Both are nutrient dense and contribute a wide array of nutrients like zinc, the B vitamins and complete protein with all the amino acids needed for health. Processed meats are a broad category with many different choices, allowing consumers to buy products that best fit their nutrition and health needs.”

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