The Argument Against Red and Processed MeatsFirst, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘red’ meat. Red meat is any meat that is red in colour when it’s raw, and includes beef and lamb but also includes pork. So, steaks, roast joints chops and cutlets are all classed as red meat. Chicken and turkey are not red meats, and are classified as poultry or white meats. Processed meats are meats that have had some kind of treatment before hitting the supermarket shelves. This might be a process of preserving, salting, curing or smoking. Burgers, sausages, ham, salami and bacon are all processed meats. In 2015, a report by the respected body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to classify eating red meat as a ‘probable’ cause of bowel cancer and processed meats as definite carcinogens, in the same category as cigarettes. In turn, this led to new guidelines on how much meat is safe to eat. It’s now recommended that we keep our consumption of red and processed meats to a total of 70g per day, no more than three times a week. One cooked breakfast of two sausages and two rashers of bacon weighs around 130g so it’s clear to see how quickly 70g can add up. The research shows overwhelmingly that “bowel cancer is more common in those who eat the most red and processed meats”, based on more than 800 studies. Researchers conclude that a type of iron called haem iron in red meat, certain chemicals called nitrates and nitrites that are added to processed meats and other chemicals called amines that are produced when meat is cooked at a high temperature are all linked to the increased risk of bowel cancer. A diet high in red and processed meats has also been linked to other health conditions including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.