A few cocktails now and then won’t croak your liver, but daily over consumption to the point of drunkenness probably will.
A good cigar now and then probably won’t give you Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, such as emphysema and asthma, but six a day probably will.
An order of Mickey D’s salty French fries on occasion won’t make you obese or raise your blood pressure, but a daily dose of them, especially if supersized, probably will.
And two strips of bacon with eggs once a week won’t give you colorectal cancer, but add some ham to the bacon, have a hot dog for lunch and maybe some sausage with jerky for desert, every day, and you had better be a believer in colonoscopy screens to look for early polyps that could degenerate into colorectal cancer over the years.
My point is simple. The recent petition filed by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) signed by Executive Director Michael Jacobson and senior food safety attorney David Plunkett, calling on the USDA to label hot dogs and other meats with a warning that “frequent consumption of processed meats may increase your risk of colorectal cancer”, nears the definition of ridiculous.
The nine page petition can be seen at http://espinet.org/resource/processed-meat-petition.
There have been numerous studies that either praise meat and condemn it.
The one cited in this petition is from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer; an agency, by the way, that did not have unanimous agreement as to the conclusion that eating processed meats can cause cancer.
My point is that too much of a good thing just might be a bad thing, but by adding labels saying a product may cause cancer, you are just adding confusion to an already confused group of shoppers who regularly read that something is good for you, only to be told a few years later that it is bad for you.
I mean really, if someone is a “frequent” consumer of hot dogs, do you really think he is terribly worried about his overall health?
And as for that risk of colorectal cancer, it is probably one of the top two cancers that can be detected before it really is a cancer, cervical cancer being the other.
Simple colonoscopy screening every ten years actually will find pre-cancerous polyps that can be easily removed. Unfortunately too many people ignore the medical advice to get this procedure done, allowing colorectal cancer to be the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.
If they ignore their physician’s advice to have a lifesaving exam, do you think they care what CSPI thinks?
Never a group to hesitate to jump on someone else’s band wagon for a little free publicity, a group of twelve nutritionists and scientists, seven of whom include Harvard in their titles, sent a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack supporting the petition, saying “people want clear and accurate information about potential health hazards in the foods they eat to help them make wise choices at the grocery store and restaurants.”
If that were the overwhelmingly popular position, why do 4 out of 5 diners, when asked “how would you like your hamburger cooked”, respond “medium”?
Why do potato chips top the list of snack foods?
And why do cooks consistently undercook and mishandle chicken meat?
I think the North American Meat Institute had the most reasonable response to this petition I have seen when they said ”Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease, not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health.”
A WHO spokesperson also chimed in, telling the Irish Times that “too much of anything is not good”. I guess he knew what I was thinking and going to write about.
When I was with the USDA, Michael Jacobson and others from CSPI, sometimes referred to as the Food Police, met with our Chief of Staff, myself, and a few others asking that USDA put warnings on labels about the dangers of salt ingestion. We were not too receptive.
They blurted out to the Chief of Staff that they were then going to hold him responsible for thousands of deaths from hypertension and other salt ingestion related diseases.
He left the room.
I think I will leave this debate as well and go enjoy some bacon-laced ice cream.