Eating can kill: why “pink” ham is dangerous for your health?

For your health, avoid eating too fatty, too sweet, too salty, a well-known French refrain. On the other hand, the dangerousness of charcuterie is ignored by a large part of the population. However, eating ham stuffed with food additives is dangerous for your health.

The National Food Safety Agency, in its study published on Tuesday July 12, and unveiled upstream by the JDD, “recommends reducing the exposure of the population through proactive measures by limiting exposure through food“, and ensures that “analysis of the bibliographic data confirms the existence of an association between the risk of colorectal cancer and exposure to nitrites.

Why should we be wary of “pink” ham?

Who, one day, has not chosen his ham according to its color? A widespread practice, and ultimately very instinctive. By choosing ham, which is more pink than grey, the consumer unconsciously thinks to favor quality and to buy a better quality ham, which is not true.

We know from scientific studies that consumers judge the quality of meat based on color. However, we forget that when cooked, for example when cooking at home, the meat becomes grey, brown or white, but above all not pink. There is evidence that buyers are much more attracted to pink meat than gray meat. We choose food with our eyes” analyzes Guillaume Coudray, author of the book “Cochonneries: how charcuterie has become a poison”.

How do you know if the ham you buy contains food additives?

The answer is simple: on the packaging. You have to look very carefully at the list of ingredients.

The two most commonly used ingredients are potassium nitrate and sodium nitrite. There is also potassium nitrite, and sodium nitrate. They appear on the label as E249, E250, E251, E252″ explains Dr Mathilde Touvier, Director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team at Inserm.

Why are there nitrites, and their cousins ​​nitrates, in ham?

These food additives have a preservative function, and prevent the proliferation of toxic bacteria. But not only. These nitrites and nitrates make it possible to color the meat.

When you put nitrite or nitrate in the meat, a new pigment will appear. First effect: the meat will turn flashy pink. The advantage for the industry with these nitrites, nitrates, or this nitrite salt…is this uniform color, rosacea, and this new pigment will never lose its color, even if it oxidizes. For example, if you buy your ham by the cut at 4 p.m., and the previous slice was cut at 8 a.m., it will still be pink. While normally the slice should be greyish” observes Guillaume Coudray, author of the book “Cochonneries: how charcuterie has become a poison”.

Why these food additives can cause cancer?

According to a study conducted by Dr Mathilde Touvier, director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team at Inserm, who for 6 years followed more than 100,000 volunteers, the risk of breast cancer reaches 25% in people who consume the highest doses of added nitrates. An increase that goes to 58% for prostate cancer with nitrites.

In 2018, the WHO assured that nearly 4,000 cases of colon cancer in France were linked to the consumption of cold cuts.

As life progresses, when retirement age comes, we notice that there is an explosion of colon cancers. It is this accumulation of these nitrosated compounds, throughout our life, stored in our body, which lead to colon cancer later, we know this experimentally in rats, it is proven” is alarmed Gillaume Coudray, author of the book “Cochonneries: how charcuterie has become a poison”.

When should you worry about its consumption?

Everyday food, easy to consume, inexpensive, ham is widely consumed by the French. However, it has been proven that deli meats, more generally, are the biggest carriers of nitrites.

Doctors and scientists recommend not to exceed 150 g of cold cuts per week. Knowing that a slice of ham weighs on average 50 grams.


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