Been lots of coverage of the shocking advice from the World Cancer Research Fund, published today, advising parents not to put processed meats in children's lunch boxes. The claim is that it could lead to bowel cancer in later life. Must admit, my reaction to all this publicity is deep scepticism. Sounds like over-egging it to me. The prejudices which may have influenced me are two. Firstly, six years ago, I was struck down with bowel cancer myself - and secondly, the whole of my business life has been founded on the production of red meat.
I've always been doubtful about these sort of scare stories. It seems to me obvious that eating too much food, or eating foods that make us fat are unwise. It follows that encouraging our children to eat such foods must also be unwise. But how should parents give effect to these observations. Some steps are obvious. Over the years our house has accepted that too much sugar, salt, fatty foods and confectionery should be avoided - except at Xmas. And fruit, vegetables, and semi skimmed are always available. Unfortunately, nuts and wine remain unconquered. And we still eat red meat, at least once a week, sometimes more often. I had become almost vegetarian until the announcement that there may have been a link between Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and Creutzveldt Jacob Disease - after which I felt it was my duty to eat more beef. No principle involved in my near vegetarianism. I just prefer fish, macaroni cheese, fishcakes etc.
I do not remember hearing either of my Nains saying "everything in moderation" but I imagine its what they would have said. Its also what the UK Food Standards Agency says. "Processed meat is fine - but not too often". Sounds like good sense to me. I'm not at all 'convinced' by the supposed 'convincing' evidence which has been produced today. Seems to me that it's more to do with eating too much, with too much of it fattening, and not taking enough exercise to stop getting fat. I find the video clip in this BBC report very 'unconvincing'. I do hope that the cancer charities are not being hijacked by the vegetarian movement.