A.M.I. addresses legal efforts on hot dog warning labels

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — The American Meat Institute is urging dismissing "a nuisance lawsuit" recently filed through what it calls "the pro-vegetarian, animal rights group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and its 'Cancer Project.'"

Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, Con Agra Foods and Marathon Enterprises are being sued by three New Jersey residents "for failing to warn consumers that hot dogs increase the danger of colorectal cancer. The action comes in the wake of landmark scientific studies linking hot dogs and similar meats to colon cancer," states a Cancer Project news release.

A.M.I. stated it hopes the court will quickly move to review the science affirming the safety of hot dogs and processed meats and dismiss this lawsuit, said J. Patrick Boyle, A.M.I. president. "Meat products are regulated and inspected by U.S.D.A. and bear the federal government's seal of inspection, showing they are wholesome and nutritious. While P.C.R.M. argues for warning labels on our safe products, the labels would be more appropriately placed on P.C.R.M.'s web sites and press releases to alert consumers to their true agenda."

U.S. Dietary Guidelines affirm that processed meat and poultry products - including hot dogs -- can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, Mr. Boyle said.

P.C.R.M. has been widely criticized for its alarmist campaign against hot dogs and processed meats, A.M.I. stated in a news release. Ron Kleinman, M.D., a leading medical expert on childhood nutrition at Massachusetts General Hospital and former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has called P.C.R.M.'s ad featuring child actors claiming they have cancer from processed meats 'outrageous,' and he chastised the group for exploiting children to achieve its political agenda.

A.M.I. further charged P.C.R.M.'s goal is to create a vegan society. Its executive director, Neal Barnard, sat on the board of the Foundation to Support Animal Protection, which has since become known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation, until 2005, A.M.I. pointed out.

"There are safe levels of just about everything; balance and moderation are key," A.M.I. relayed. "Saying that there are ‘no safe levels’ of a nutritious food product is simply outrageous and scientifically insupportable. Processed meats do play an important role in a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products."

Processed meats come in many different formulations to meet many nutrition needs. P.C.R.M. has taken "a broad swipe" at an entire and very diverse category of products. A.M.I. charged.

Regarding nitrite, one liter of pomegranate juice contributes 100 times more nitrite to the diet than a hot dog, and a spinach salad and a ham sandwich contribute about the same amount, according one leading expert on nitrite and nitrate, A.M.I. relayed.

The W.C.R.F./A.I.C.R. report P.C.R.M. cites made selective use of science, A.M.I. further charged. For each study cited by W.C.R.F. showing a relationship between meat and cancer, there are many others — disregarded by W.C.R.F. — that show no relationship.

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