Meat sales down 5% after WHO’s cancer alert

Meat sales in Portugal have dropped 5% following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report highlighting cancer risks linked with eating processed and red meats.

The news came from the Association of the Portuguese Meat Industry (APIC), which criticised the report for “affecting the industry”.

“It is inappropriate to attribute a higher cancer risk to just one factor (meats),” the association said, adding that it is a “very complex matter that depends on many of factors such as age, genetics, diet, environment and lifestyle”.

“It isn’t just a specific group of food that sets health risks, but a diet as a whole,” it added.

Portugal’s general health directorate (DGS) has also tried calming concerns.

“Eating processed meat is not a problem as long as it is done in moderation and along with other food such as fruit and vegetables,” said a statement.
“It won’t be a steak that will give you cancer. Ideally, this kind of meat should be reduced to 500 grams per week, which represents around four to five meals of meat per week,” said Pedro Graça, the head of DGS’ healthy eating programme.

The effects of eating processed and red meat became a hot topic when WHO launched a report on October 26 warning that processed meats, such as “bacon, sausages and ‘presunto’”, were carcinogenic and that red meat was also “probably” cancer-causing.

It explained that the daily consumption of 50 grams of processed meats increases the likelihood of developing intestinal cancer by 18%.

On a related note, the National Statistics Institute (INE) has revealed that the consumption of beef and pork has been dropping since 2008, while poultry sales are on the rise.

DGS warns however that the portion of meat eaten by the Portuguese is still “too high”.

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