19 August 1997

Gloom over red meat cancer link

THE NFU says a study linking high red meat consumption with an increased risk of bowel and stomach cancer will cause "heartache" among livestock producers.

The Committee of Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) is expected to warn ministers later this month that people should limit their consumption of cooked red meat to a maximum of 140g (5oz) a day to avoid the increased cancer risk.

A World Cancer Research Fund study is believed to have reached similar conclusions.

But the UK average daily consumption of 75g (2.7oz) is well below the danger level, according to a report in the Financial Times.

An NFU official said previous COMA reports had highlighted the value of meat in a balanced diet.

But, she accepted the new cancer link would cause heartache to many farmers, especially those producing beef and who were still struggling to cope with depressed prices following the BSE crisis.