Recent statements by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the potential carcinogenic properties of sausages and red meat is one more blow to an already beleaguered animal agriculture industry. There’s a laundry list of potential dangers and warnings hanging over our industry: cholesterol, growth hormones, triglycerides, clenbuterol, animal welfare, environmental pollution, heart disease, eccentricities by extremist groups, and now added to that list is cancer.
I'm nobody to undervalue the studies carried out by WHO. I'm sure they are well-founded. But my concern is that we live surrounded by fears that stem from breaking news reports and news like the recent statements from the WHO. Causing a fear of eating a certain product is not a good thing — for anyone. Eating is not only nutrition, but it is also enjoyment, of course, always within measure.
Another concern is that as human beings — and this includes scientists — we make mistakes. Let’s take for example, the scientific claims made against egg consumption and its correlation to causing high cholesterol. We now know that this is actually not the case and that in fact, eggs are a perfectly nutritious and healthy form of protein. But for several decades these claims negatively impacted the egg industry and prevented the public from consuming a high quality product. Luckily, this is all in the past and eggs have gone from being the enemy to a highly recommended part of a healthy and balanced diet.
For now, chicken seems to remain in the safe zone, though not completely free of its own warning labels. Is it possible that in a few years this latest statement by the WHO on the consumption of red meat and sausages will be retracted? Only time will tell, but hopefully it will not take 40 years, as was the case with the egg industry.