The wor­sht of health

A new re­port says pre­served meats are bad for us. So should kosher sausages carry health warn­ings? Leon Sy­mons and Jemimah Ste­in­feld in­ves­ti­gate

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES -

VI­EN­NAS, WOR­SHT and sausages have been part of the Jewish sta­ple diet in Bri­tain for deca d e s . Haras s e d moth­ers des­per­ate to feed their fussy chil­dren usu­ally have one or more in the fridge or freezer, to be pulled out in times of great­est need.

But could that habit be un­der threat? A re­port pub­lished last week by the World Can­cer Re­search Fund on food, nu­tri­tion, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and their links to the cause and pre­ven­tion of can­cer — said by the Fund to be the most com­pre­hen­sive study ever un­der­taken — pro­duced ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing that healthy eaters should avoid all pre­served meats.

The re­port puts it bluntly: “The ev­i­dence that red meats and pro­cessed meats are a cause of col­orec­tal can­cer is con­vinc­ing.” Al­though the panel points the fin­ger at non-kosher prod­ucts such as ham and ba­con, it also talks about a lot of kosher favourites — salami, pas­trami, sausages and frank­furters. The re­port com­ments that smok­ing, cur­ing, salt­ing and adding preser­va­tives are all can­cer risks. A packet of kosher salt beef on the su­per­mar­ket shelves il­lus­trates the point. The in­gre­di­ents in­clude eight E-num­bers, in­clud­ing sodium ni­trite, which is im­pli­cated by the re­port.

Luci Daniels, a for­mer chair of the Bri­tish Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion and a lead­ing di­eti­tian, agrees with the find­ings and sug­gests that we would do well to take note: “This re­port is in line with cur­rent healthy-eat­ing rec­om­men­da­tions. As an eth­nic group, we tend to be heavy and are more likely to de­velop heart dis­ease and di­a­betes as well as can­cer. Cut­ting down on pre­served meats will help in this area. There are easy al­ter­na­tives for healthy, nu­tri­tious and tasty meals.

“Hav­ing said that, this doesn’t mean you can’t eat a sausage at a bar­be­cue. You can, but it would be bad to have vi­en­nas the fol­low­ing night and then salami af­ter that.”

Her view is backed up by Pamela Gold­berg, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Breast Can­cer Cam­paign, who says: “It’s the same with all th­ese things — ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion. If your diet con­sists of purely salami, pickle and pre­served food, you should con­sider chang­ing.

“Jews, es­pe­cially in the strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity, may check on the su­per­vi­sion but are not used to scru­ti­n­is­ing la­bels for their nu­tri­tional value.”

A spokesman for food re­tailer Yar­den dis­agrees: “One week they tell you it’s healthy to eat meat, the next week it’s not. If man­u­fac­tur­ers pro­duce healthy al­ter­na­tives, then we would be in­ter­ested. Our main pri­or­ity is to give the cus­tomers the choice.”

And a spokesper­son at Blooms restau­rants in Gold­ers Green, North West Lon­don, does not an­tic­i­pate tastes chang­ing. “We’ve been serv­ing it for 50 or 60 years,” he says. “Salami, vi­en­nas, etc, are very easy meals for work­ing house­wives and chil­dren.”

PHOTO: KAREN SIL­VER

Meats in­clud­ing sausages, salt beef and salami have been found to carry a higher can­cer risk

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