The state of California is looking into new World Health Organization (WHO) reports that processed meats are linked to cancer. The result could be that California would start putting warning labels on such products, a move that the meat industry would certainly strongly fight against.
Needless to say, putting these processed meats on a cancer-alert list and stamping warning labels on the products would most definitely bring about a reduction in consumer demand. Even worse for the meat companies, customers with certain types of cancers might try to bring about legal action against the offending corporations.
California is often a leading state when it comes to initiatives regarding agriculture. The state already has laws mandating larger cages for chickens and restrictions on antibiotic use for livestock.
On Monday, WHO released a statement saying that consuming processed meats can lead to colorectal cancer in humans. While the chance of developing cancer is small, the risks increase as more processed meat is consumed.
Meanwhile, the meat industry is an outspoken critic of these reports, saying that processed meat products are perfectly safe when eaten in proper proportion with other foods.
According to California’s Proposition 65, the state must keep a list of all chemicals and substances that are known to cause an increased risk for cancer. Additionally, the makers of offending products must provide warning labels for consumers. Many legal experts believe that California will soon add processed meats to the list.
As for the meat industry, companies producing processed meats will do everything they can in order to prevent having to put warning labels on products like bacon or hot dogs. Representatives from the industry say that they shouldn’t have to put warning labels on their products since they have been deemed to be safe by the United States Department of Agriculture in the past.
It is likely that California would eventually try and reverse the decision from the USDA that processed meat products are safe.
The meat industry is more worried about the potential requirement of warning labels than it is about a potential inclusion on the Proposition 65 list. Warning labels would attract the immediate attention of customers, and they would definitely discourage some purchases from being made. It is not yet known what the warning labels would say.
WHO recently placed processed meats in its “group one” category for cancer-causing products. “Group one” items are said to have “sufficient evidence” of links to cancer. This is the same group category for tobacco and asbestos.