The Health Minister Leo Varadkar has ruled out placing health warnings on bacon and meat products.
It comes after a World Health Organisation (WHO) study found eating processed meat products, such as rashers, increases the risk of developing bowel cancer.
He agreed eating too much processed and red meat does cause a risk, but said placing health warnings on meat would be “over the top”.
IFA president Eddie Downey welcomed Mr Varadkar’s comments. He said red meat is an important part of a balanced diet and consuming recommended quantities is well recognised as being beneficial to health and a source of essential vitamins and minerals.
Mr Varadkar said: “I think that [warnings on products] would be over the top, the WHO’s group has confirmed that red meat and processed meat is a grade on carcinogen which it is, so is sunshine and so are other things as well. It’s certainly not on the level of alcohol but it’s without doubt that eating too much processed meat and red meat is bad for your health and we have always known that. It’s not something you should be eating every day, a couple of times a week maybe, but not every day.”
However, he said the department would be changing the advice around healthy eating. “We are doing revised healthy eating guidelines, that will give people comprehensive information about their health. I think the level of risk isn’t so high that it would be necessary to have specific labels on red meat, bearing in mind that we don’t have any health warnings on alcohol which is 10 times more likely to cause cancer and that is legislation that I will be bringing in in the next few weeks.”
The proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is due to come before the Dáil before Christmas. As part of the measures,
standardised health warnings are expected to appear on all bottles of alcohol next year.
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