Eat Drink Better

Published on February 28th, 2011 | by Rachel Shulman


Eat Less Red and Processed Meat, Warns UK Health Department


In stark contrast to the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) recent endorsement of beef as a heart-healthy food, the UK Department of Health issued a warning last week to eat less meat.

The UK health agency advised people to limit consumption of red and processed meats to three ounces a day. The warning is based on a new report from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) linking red and processed meats with bowel cancer.

Three ounces of meat is roughly the size of a deck of playing cards. The average American consumes three times that much per day.

According to SACN research, people who eat more than three ounces of red or processed meat per day are at greater risk of getting bowel cancer.

Beef, lamb, and pork are all examples of red meat. Processed meat includes ham, bacon, luncheon meat, corned beef, salami, pâté, sausages, and burgers.

The health agency recommends cutting back to two and a half ounces per day to help reduce the risk of cancer. This change can be achieved by eating smaller portions or by eating red and processed meats less often.

In response to the UK Health Department’s announcement, Marion Nestle, a New York University nutritionist and author of Food Politics, wrote on her blog,

And where are the US Dietary Guidelines on the subject of red and processed meats? Buried in euphemisms, alas:

  • Choose lean meats
  • Choose seafood instead of some meat
  • Reduce calories from solid fats

No wonder Americans are confused about diet and health.

Looks like the UK Department of Health might be a few decades ahead of the AHA and the USDA on this one.

Image courtesy of fotoosvanrobin via a Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (, friend me on Facebook (!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (

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