Whether or not the new report linking processed meats to cancer will actually make you think twice about eating things like bacon, the alarming declaration by World Health Organization officials may soon have a lasting effect on how bacon and red meats are packaged in California.
Processed meats -- bacon, ham, and sausage, among others -- and red meat may someday come with a warning label in the Golden State, thanks to a report published Monday by the World Health Organization's (WHO) Agency for Research on Cancer that said such meats are carcinogenic to humans and could lead to stomach, colon, and other cancers. As reported by the Huffington Post, an environmental group called the Center for Biological Diversity claims the new WHO classification should trigger a California law that will require such warnings on meats sold in the state. Yikes.
“The World Health Organization has put these meats in the same category as cigarettes in terms of the death and danger they deliver,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the organization, in a press release. “Now, California must follow suit with public health warnings on the label. And it’s no surprise: the science has been clear that these meats are bad for people, not to mention for wildlife and the planet.”
Specifically, the group points to Proposition 65, which requires the state to maintain a list of substances known to be carcinogenic to humans. Businesses in California must provide a "clear and reasonable" warning to customers before exposing them to products that contain these substances. Such warnings could come in the form of a label on packaging, a note on a menu, or other types of signs, according to the HuffPo report.
While the Center for Biological Diversity has called for warning labels under the law, the state has yet to say whether it will act on the issue. The California attorney general's office is responsible for enforcing the warning label requirement, but first, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment must determine whether processed meats should be added to the list of chemicals known to be carcinogens under Proposition 65. Thrillist reached out to the AG's office for additional information.
But, yes, possible warning labels on bacon -- of all things -- and not just to say it's a package full of delicious.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and has had a serious hankering for bacon all morning. Send news tips to email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.