France has confirmed the link between cancer and processed meats as it attempts to cut out the use of nitrates. Nitrate is widely used in fertilizers for farming, while nitrite is used to extend the shelf life of meat and give boiled ham its pink color.
Now that the National Health Agency has officially confirmed the link, they are set on cutting the use of nitrites in food. A possible ban has sent meat processors into a frenzy as they use nitrite in products like ham and sausages.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2018, nitrates and nitrites ingested through processed meat can lead to colorectal cancer. They are also possibly linked to other cancers like ovarian, kidney, pancreas, and breast, according to Anses in France. Anses advises cutting nitrites and nitrates to a minimum.
The government has said that a full ban is not justified after Anses said that based on the consumption habits of French people, nearly all of the population did not exceed the permissible daily doses for exposure. However, a plan will be presented to parliament in the fall to possibly cut down or eliminate them when possible.
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