A lot of baloney

“But just because bologna is unfashionable does not mean that it deserves its bad rap.” says Globe and Mail writer, Wency Leung in an article entitled, “Is the rap against bologna just a bunch of baloney?

She points to Dr. David Richardson, editor of the British Columbia Medical Journal, who states that he grew up eating bologna sandwiches day after day. Bologna sandwiches are not ideal, he cautions, “but I don’t think anyone has shortened their life expectancy” by eating them.

I would say that there are expert groups that may disagree with both Ms. Leung and Dr. Richardson.

For example, both the World Cancer Research Fund  WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in two comprehensive reports question the long term safety of processed meats. In the WCRF/AICR’s Second Expert Report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, the recommendation is to avoid these meats altogether.

When I was a kid growing up, bologna was not allowed in our house. My parents, both in the meat business, simply said no to us, even though it was indeed more fashionable at the time. When we asked why we couldn’t have it, my father simply said that we should not ask.

Lunch meat options such as “artificial-preservative-free roasted turkey” are  definitely more trendy these days.  But when I see the claim “artificial-preservative-free”, it makes me hopping mad.

Parents are trying to avoid feeding their kids nitrates and nitrites – substances that are linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. Some food companies are getting around the issue by calling their products natural but they still contain these compounds but just from a natural source, celery extract.

While some parents have protested the misleading use of the term, natural, others are still being fooled as they watch the television commercials touting these natural meats.

The companies state that they are being more honest on their labels by now informing consumers that nitrites may be in their products. But why are these TV ads then still running?

Does the artificial preservative free claim irk you? Have you been taken in by it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

* The file was updated at September 5,2012 to correct the name of the Globe and Mail writer Wency Leung

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Categories: Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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