Consumption levels indicated as potentially dangerous by the WHO document are much higher than the Italian average.
The shock-waves were strong and the news caused great alarm: an IARC-WHO report included raw and processed red meat in two lists of potentially carcinogenic substances.
Italians, however, are seeking an explanation that reconciles this information with the statistic that places us among the populations on earth with the longest life expectancy.
In the home of the cold cut, ham and many other products certified DOP and IGP, should we be worried and call into question our centuries-old culinary tradition?
Let’s try to find the answer: the studies used by the IARC have been known for years and the per capita consumption listed as potentially dangerous is much higher than the national Italian average. Furthermore, our methods of processing meat are very different from those of Northern Europe and the United States.
The risk value of 100 grams of red meat per day and 50g of processed meat is almost double the amount consumed in Italy.
With regard to these classifications, the Italian AIRC also points out that “such studies are performed at the highest dose or exposure over a very long time, which is difficult to replicate in real life”. It goes on to say that “before starting to worry, it is important to know not only in which list a certain substance can be found, but also what the doses and durations of exposure are, beyond which the risk becomes real and not just theoretical. ”
With consumption based on awareness and at a reasonable level in our Mediterranean diet we should not be worried, but as in all things, we should not overdo it – neither, however, should we live in fear.
As ASSICA and ASSOCARNI [the Italian trade associations for meat producers] have stated, “there is ample scientific evidence of the benefits of meat consumption in a healthy diet” and that “meat and cold cuts are vital sources of nutrients, especially for the muscles, and contain amino acids, B vitamins and minerals essential for our health”.