HAM and bacon sold in supermarkets contain “pointless” chemicals linked to cancer, a new report warns.
The meat industry has long claimed that nitrates preserve processed meats and protect against botulinum bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.
Getty – Contributor Ham and bacon sold in supermarkets contain ‘pointless’ chemicals linked to cancer, a report has warned
But a leaked report for the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) by scientific consultancy Campden has found that the chemicals don’t actually destroy the bug.
The research, seen by the Observer, found that there was no significant growth of the bacteria in either the nitrite-free or the nitrite-cured samples that were tested.
Previous studies have linked nitrites added to meat, which is then cooked and digested, result in the development of cancer-triggering chemicals in the stomach.
The World Health Organisation has ruled adding nitrites increases bowel cancer risk.
‘PEDDLED THE MYTH’
Baroness Walmsley, the vice-chair of parliament’s all-party group on cancer, told the Observer: “This leaked internal report is highly embarrassing for the processed meat industry and for the Food Standards Agency which have persistently peddled the myth that nitrites are essential to protect against botulism.
“This evidence raises serious questions about why nitrites are being added to our bacon and ham.”
Nitrates are also added to keep bacon and ham pink for longer, therefore making it more attractive to customers.
But as more research on the threat posed by nitrites is carried out, some companies have scrapped the chemical in its products.
Last year, Aldi began stocking Haughton Hams’ range of Nitrite Free Bacon, in a bid for better “food safety”.
While Naked Bacon, produced by Northern Ireland food firm Finnebrogue, has been available at UK supermarkets since the early last year too.
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It uses natural fruit and spice extracts in the curing process, but rashers costs twice as much as the usual supermarket brand at around £3 per packet in Sainsbury’s.
In 2015 the World Health Organisation warned there were significant increases in the risk of bowel cancer from eating processed meats such as bacon that traditionally have nitrites added as they are cured.
UK sales plunged 11 per cent the following year as worried shoppers bought 25.4 million fewer packs of bacon.
This is the ultimate bacon sandwich
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