SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Korea Bizwire) – After the World Health Organization (WHO) designated processed meats as a carcinogen, meat lovers worldwide are up in arms, and meat producers are suffering from the huge blow.
Domestic sales of processed meat such as ham and sausages dropped 20 percent in one day due to consumer apprehension. The Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) announced that it would run its own risk evaluation to diminish the anxiety that is growing.
In western countries such as Germany, where more processed meat is frequently consumed, governments are downplaying the report and reassuring their citizens.
After the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designated processed meat as a first grade carcinogen, sales of ham, sausage and bacon at large discount stores instantly dropped by more than 10 percent.
Sales of processed meats at Emart on the day of the announcement were down 16.9 percent compared to the previous week. Sales were also lower compared to the previous year. Lotte Mart reported a 17.9 percent drop in sales compared to the same day last year. Sales of processed meat at Homeplus also decreased 15 percent compared to the same day last year, and 12 percent compared to the week before.
With controversy brewing, authorities have started to respond. The KFDA announced plans to evaluate the levels of harm processed meat and red meat have on the human body. The KFDA will establish a task force with other departments that are related to the issue, and create a pool of experts that will provide advice.
In the meantime, governments abroad have stepped up to calm their citizens. Christian Schmidt, head of the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture, issued a statement saying that ‘no one has to be afraid of eating sausages’ and that ‘quantity is the problem as always, eating too much of a certain product is what’s bad for the health’.
In other efforts to dispel public concern, authorities in Austria, Italy and Australia claimed that ‘it is a comedy to compare ham and sausages to cigarettes and asbestos’ and emphasized that there is no need to be anxious about the announcement.
The IARC, a WHO affiliated research organization, announced that they have categorized processed meats such as sausages, ham and hotdogs as first grade carcinogens like cigarettes and asbestos. They also reported that red meat can also cause cancer. The WHO announced that the possibility of suffering from colorectal cancer rises 18 percent if one eats 50 grams of red meat every day.
The Korean Meat Processing Association responded to the announcement by saying that ‘it is pity that the positive effects of protein are neglected and the products are being lined up with asbestos or arsenic’. They added that since Koreans consume only an average of 4.4 kg of processed meat a year, there is no need to worry.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)