Save my bacon: how countries are reacting to the WHO red meat report

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday that processed meats such as sausages, bacon, and ham can be ranked alongside cigarettes as causes of cancer, causing much upset among meat-loving folks who took to social media to defend their beloved bacon and sausages. Twitter had a field day and different governments and industry-backed specialists launched inquiries into the study. Here are some of the results of this week's big news for meat lovers from across the globe.

Processed meats ranked as a group 1 carcinogen

Processed meats ranked as a group 1 carcinogen Image by cookbookman17

In Spain, where 30,000 tonnes of jamon are sold every year, this is bad news. Jamon makes up 23% of its exported meat, creating an industry worth up to €1.5 billion. The meat industry there rejected the IARC findings, calling into question the ability for any one factor to be the cause of cancer. Spain could wind up in a bad situation if the study gains traction and momentum, so dependent is their economy on processed meats.

In the US, Al Jazeera reported that the news will affect low-income families the most as they consume around two servings of processed meat a day. The news however could affect the fate of America's number one beloved street food, the hot dog, as an American Cancer Society representative supported the WHO findings, recommending US households to focus on a "plant-based diet".

The news about the potentially carcinogenic effects of processed meats hit Italy hard, with the people behind the world famous Parma Ham stepping into the ring and accusing the WHO study of spreading "meaningless alarmism" according to The Guardian.  The meat industry in Italy is makes a yearly profit of €32 billion and provides work for 180,000 people.

Germany also ran to the defense of its processed meats, with the food and agriculture minister, Christiam Schmidt saying, "No one should be afraid when eating a bratwurst." Schmidt's counterpart in Austria, Andra Ruppechter took it a step further, saying in a Facebook post,“Placing ham on the same level as asbestos is outrageous nonsense and only serves to unsettle people. There’s no doubt for me: Austria’s sausage is and remains the best.” The post was accompanied by a photo of the minister eating from a platter of cold cut meats.

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