In the wake of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report stating that bacon and processed meats are “carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence,” a group of Illinois lawmakers are standing up to defend bacon. 

Illinois state Rep. Steve Andersson
Rep. Steve Andersson

Six freshmen Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly introduced House Resolution 839 at the end of October showing their support of bacon and other pork products. Was it in direct response to the WHO report? “You betcha. It was in direct response to that,” said state Rep. Steve Andersson of Geneva, Ill.

The non-binding legislation outlines the impact pork producers have on Illinois, with more than 2,000 farms and 10,500 jobs providing a $1.8 billion boost to the state’s economy.

Members of the bacon lobby include Andersson, Avery Bourne of Raymond, Grant Wehrli of Naperville, Mark Batinick of Plainfield, Reggie Phillips of Charleston and Keith Wheeler of Oswego.

In its study, the IARC concluded that each 50-g portion of processed meat eaten daily increases an individual’s risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Examples given by the IARC included bacon, hot dogs, ham, sausage, corned beef, beef jerky and other items.

Andersson said the resolution is attempting to take some of the focus off the negative aspects of the report.

"The key to eating bacon and gaining health benefits is keeping portions to reasonable sizes," the resolution notes.