Out of the frying pan?
New year, new scare story. Well, not that new, exactly – but yet another reason to have consumers scratching their heads and rubbing their chins when next contemplating what to sling in their shopping baskets.
Yup, this time processed meats such as bacon and ham are in the firing line, as a coalition of ‘experts’ and politicians warn that there is a consensus of scientific opinion that nitrites used to cure such meats produce carcinogens when ingested.
In a recent statement, the coalition warned that ‘not enough is being done to raise awareness of nitrites in our processed meat and their health risks, in stark contrast to warnings regularly issued regarding sugar and fattening foods’.
And surely therein lies the problem. The constant bombardment of warnings relating to what we can and can’t eat (and drink) are, I suspect, beginning to wear a bit thin with the public.
They want to be trusted to make their own decisions (as did my dear old father-in-law, who had a bacon sandwich for breakfast every day, and two glasses of wine every evening – and died of old age at 96).
That said, though, it would also be useful for consumers to be reminded that nitrites, like all additives, can only be added to food if they serve a technological purpose (in meat, nitrites help to hinder microbial growth and protect against botulism – a serious form of food poisoning) and have been certified as safe by the European Food Safety Authority. So maybe we should wait and see what it has to say on the subject…
In the meantime, as far as I’m concerned, the ‘all things in moderation’ mantra still holds true.