Brits are looking for healthier options for breakfast, and that spells trouble for bacon and its place in the English breakfast.
In a survey of 2,000 Britons, more than 25 percent of people aged 18-24 have taken bacon from the English breakfast, according to Glotech Repairs, a leading appliance repair company in the UK. The company attributed the figure to the release of a World Health Organization report that linked consumption of processed meats, such as bacon and sausage, to cancer.
In October 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the WHO, claimed a definitive link between the consumption of processed meats and 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.
The UK Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reported that sales of bacon dropped 17 percent after the IARC released the report. IRI, a market research company, reported that sales of bacon and sausage fell about 14 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively, in the two weeks following the report. Now, sales are on the mend and are only 4 percent lower since November, the AHDB reported.
And, 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. Meanwhile, dietitians recommend moderate bacon consumption.
“With the growing emergence of social media, teens and adolescents are becoming increasingly aware of their eating habits,” said Anna Daniels, a dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. “There is a worry that this can be taken to the extreme as a little bacon in a full English breakfast occasionally as part of a balanced diet would be perfectly harmless.”
Daniels added that slightly more concerning is that more people are eating on the go. “Picking up breakfast on route to work and not eating it at home,” she said, “this leaves the consumer more likely to eat pre-packaged and processed breakfasts that may be higher in sugar and salt. A good breakfast will set you up for the day and ensures that you don’t reach for the biscuit mid-morning.”