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Fear not, eat bratwurst, says food minister

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Fear not, eat bratwurst, says food minister
Bratwurst, delicious but dangerous? Photo: DPA
17:01 CET+01:00
Germany's food and agriculture minister said Tuesday that people should not be afraid of tucking into a grilled bratwurst despite the World Health Organization's warning that sausages and ham cause cancer.

"No one should be afraid when eating a  bratwurst,"  said Christian Schmidt.

"As with everything, what counts is the quantity: too much of something is always bad for health," he said in a statement.

"We worry people unnecessarily if we put meat in the same category as asbestos or tobacco," he added.

Based on a review of 800 studies from around the world, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said it found "sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer".

The association of Black Forest ham makers was also critical of the report, claiming that it would create insecurity among the public.

German meat is prepared under strong controls, the association's spokesperson Hans Schnekenburger said.

The organization “Food science” also slammed the review for a “lack of clear scientific proof.”

“Up until now it has never been scientifically established which elements of meat could be harmful to humans,” said the organization's head Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein.

It is unclear “whether it is the meat itself or perhaps rather the process of smoking or fermenting it [that is dangerous]” he added.

For unprocessed red meat -- beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse or goat, the review found "strong" evidence of a link, but not convincing enough to place it in the group of confirmed cancer-causing agents which includes tobacco smoke, asbestos, and now also salami.

Although sausages and salami figure regularly in German meals, meat consumption in the country has actually fallen in recent years. Each inhabitant ate 60.3 kilogrammes of meat in 2013, down from 61.3 kg in 2010.

Germany is a key meat producing nation, generating 8.8 million tonnes in 2013, including more than 5.0 million tonnes of pork and 1.4 million tonnes of poultry.

SEE ALSO: Cancer warning over German bratwurst intake

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