DC council member Mary Cheh introduced a bill to ban bacon and hot dogs from DC hospitals on October 22. If the bill passes, hospitals would remove processed meats from hospitals and replace them with plant-based foods.

The World Health Organization has found processed meat to be carcinogenic and a contributor to colorectal cancer. Processed meats like bacon and hot dogs are linked to health issues including heart disease and stroke. The World Health Organization classifies processed meats as a Class I carcinogen, meaning the highest risk assigned and firm data to make a link to cancer.

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Her bill includes three parts focused on nutrition. First, hospitals should make vegetarian and plant-based foods available to all staff, patients and visitors, second, hospitals will eliminate processed meats and third, hospitals will promote and provide healthful beverages.

Local dietitian with the Barnard Medical Center in and director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Susan Levin, MS, RD said of the bill, “Councilmember Cheh’s bill will provide physicians and patients a ‘teachable moment’ to discuss the importance of good nutrition in fighting heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, which are among the top five causes of death in D.C.”

The benefits of a plant-based diet include reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies show plant based diets are also linked to reduced risk of breast cancer.

Bills like this one focusing on hospital nutrition passed in California in 2018 and in New York in 2019.This bill would be the first in the nation to explicitly ban processed meats.

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