Politicians have called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to appear before an Oireachtas committee to answer questions on a report linking cancer to processed meats.
The study found eating bacon, ham and sausages can cause bowel cancer. The report also labelled red meat as a “probable” carcinogen.
TDs, mainly attached to the Oireachtas committee on agriculture, food and the marine, are seeking clarification of the findings.
Committee chair Andrew Doyle said the matter will be discussed next week.
The Wicklow TD and farmer said: “I think it would be no harm to get the people involved in the report and the WHO in before the committee.”
He pointed out the report mainly focuses on highly- processed meats and products. “It’s about balance and a healthy diet,” he said.
The report found 50g of processed meat a day — less than two slices of bacon — increased, by 18%, the chance of developing colorectal cancer.
Fine Gael’s Martin Heydon, a member of the committee, said: “The biggest message I would take from this is [take] everything in moderation.”
He was eight-years-old when his father died from colon cancer. Getting tested and leading a healthy life was something he now puts great emphasis on, he said.
“Avoiding cancer risk is important, but what is very important is that we don’t overreact to where the risk is, there are risks in everything.
“As a member of the agriculture committee I would see merit in there being a discussion, not just with the WHO but with the Food Safety Authority to talk about the broad area of health and a balanced diet.”
Longford TD James Bannon described the report as “hyped up” and said the findings would not impact on Irish farmers.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath said: There is huge concern that the WHO would come out with a report like this. We had it some years ago around butter and now butter is good for us. So we have to be careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction.”
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