French health authorities said they have confirmed a link between nitrates added to processed meat and colon cancer, dealing a blow to the country’s valuable pork and sausage industry.
The National Food Safety Authority, Ansys, said its study of published data on the topic supports similar conclusions in 2015 from the world health Organization (WHO).
Ansys “recommends reducing consumption of the nitrate and nitrite group by limiting exposure through food consumption,” she said in a statement.
Nitrates are added to a range of food products to improve their shelf life and flavor, and to help give pork-based products their pink color.
France is one of the world’s largest producers of cold cuts, known as charcuterie, which are often eaten as snacks or with early evening drinks.
The government immediately announced that it will launch an action plan to reduce the use of additives later this year.
“It is a matter of limiting its use to strictly necessary,” said a joint statement from the ministers of health and agriculture. “The reduction must be done in a balanced manner that ensures the food security of the consumer.”
2015 WHO warning It made headlines around the world after the United Nations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that processed meat should be classified as a Group 1 carcinogen.
The warning applied to all processed meats, from bacon which is eaten in bulk in the US and Britain, to Italian salami, Spanish chorizo, German sausage and French charcuterie.
In her statement, Ansys said reducing nitrates would increase the risk of developing serious diseases such as food poisoning, listeria or salmonella. She added that these risks can be managed through shorter lead times before consumption and modification of manufacturing processes.
“In the face of scientific facts, the political class must take action,” said campaign group Foodwatch, League Against. cancer Health monitoring app Yucca said in a joint statement.