California might add red meat and processed meat to its cancer-alert list

Health officials in California are currently examining new findings by the World Health Organization (WHO) for determining whether red meats and items such as bacon, sausages, and hot dogs should be added to the state’s cancer-alert list. This contemplation appears to be setting the stage for a probable battle between the meat industry and the state over warning labels.

If processed meat and meat are included in the list, we might witness a significant decrease in the consumer demand of those food products. This will automatically hurt the standing of major processors and producers like JBS USA and Hormel Foods Corp. That’s not all; such a step by the state might also make litigation against meat sellers by consumers diagnosed with certain forms of cancer more likely.

To date, California has hosted a number of consumer-oriented initiatives, especially regarding agriculture. We have seen the state rolling out laws for restricted antibiotic use on livestock and larger cages for chickens before most parts of the country.

On Monday, a WHO unit announced that processed meat might lead to colorectal cancer among humans. According to WHO, although the risk of having cancer is pretty small, it tends to increase with the quantity of meat consumed. The meat industry, however, is still saying that its products meet all the safety requirements and can be part of a balanced diet.

The Proposition 65 of California, a program approved way back in 1986, needs the state to maintain a list of all substances and chemicals that can increase one’s chances of having cancer. Companies producing products making that list are needed to provide consumers with “clear and reasonable” warnings.

Following the announcement by WHO, a section of the Proposition 65 expert team wants California to include processed meats in the list. Usually, the moment an item gets added to the list, it becomes the maker’s responsibility to prove that the product manufactured by them is not harmful enough to need a warning label.

Right now, the meat industry is confident that it will succeed in proving that there’s no need of putting warning labels on packages containing hot dogs or bacon. Jim Coughlin, who represents the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as a consultant, confidently said that meats will never require labels in California.