Most Americans may have shrugged it off, but British consumers are having a harder time dismissing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report that bacon and processed meat consumption can cause cancer.
According to news reports, sales of pre-packed bacon and sausage fell sharply at Britain’s top grocery stores in the two weeks following the WHO’s report in late October. Market research company, IRI reported that bacon sales fell about 14 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively, in those two weeks.
“While there have been links between certain types of meat and some forms of cancer before, this announcement from a highly respected global body was picked up widely by the media and has had an immediate impact on some people’s shopping choices,” Martin Wood, head of strategic insight, retail solutions & innovation at IRI, told Reuters.
In October, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, definitively linked the consumption of processed meats to an increased risk for developing certain cancers.
The IARC panel of health experts classified processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence,” while consumption of red meat was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
Following an outcry of meat industry stakeholders, the WHO announced plans to reexamine the role of processed meats and red meat in a healthy diet.