Meat producers are out in full force to combat the WHO's assertion on Monday that processed meats cause cancer, while red meat is "probably" carcinogenic. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says that though the WHO considered 800 studies, its report came from a panel of 22 experts who weren't unanimous in their decision, reports Politico. The North American Meat Institute says the verdict "defies both common sense and numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer," while meat processor Hormel says "very important nutrients in meat far outweigh any theoretical hazard," per CNN. The British Meat Advisory Panel goes as far as to say that "red and processed meats do not give you cancer," per the Guardian.
A rep for the Center for Science in the Public Interest argues the meat industry is following the "playbook of the tobacco, fossil fuels, and every other industry that tries to convince the public that there's doubt behind the science," which shows the way meat is processed and cooked at high temperatures can cause carcinogenic chemicals to form, reports NPR. But US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the report isn't likely to affect Dietary Guidelines, which are to be updated by the end of the year. While the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has previously noted a link between red and processed meat and cancer, "lean meat is part of a healthy diet," Vilsack says. "That's the science that's being reviewed now as the Dietary Guidelines are being developed."