processed meat ham salami bacon prosciutto animal protein
4 min read
The term 'processed meat' includes bacon, ham, salami, prosciutto, chorizo, frankfurts and sausages. Processed meats most often contain high amounts of nitrates, nitrites, sodium (salt) and other preservatives...

What are the impacts of processed meat and sausages on health?            

There is strong scientific evidence that processed meat is a convincing cause of colorectal (bowel) cancer. It is based on this evidence that processed meats (including beef, lamb and pork) are classified as a class 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In addition, a meta-analysis published in 2014, found eating processed meat (including beef, lamb or pork) is associated with increased risk of death from any cause, and from heart diseases. Therefore, processed meats are not recommended for the good health of children or adults, and are not a replacement for unprocessed meat.


In terms of sausages, most of the sausages available on our supermarket shelves are classified as ‘processed meat’. However, some freshly made sausages are not (although most are still high in saturated fat and salt). If you occasionally eat sausages, try choosing sausages made locally using kangaroo, chicken or turkey meat. Sourcing them from your butcher will have the added environmental benefit of not being stored in plastic, and the added bonus of supporting small local businesses.


The EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy and sustainable diets recommend against the intake of processed meats.


What are the environmental impacts of processed meat and sausages?                            

Beef, lamb, and pork are the most common meats that make 'processed meats' and beef and lamb have the highest output of greenhouse gases globally (compared to other commonly consumed animal and plant protein foods). In addition to the negative impacts of ruminant animals on the environment (read here for more information), processed meats require processing and are often packaged, which further increases their demand for resources and overall climate impact.


From an environmental sustainability perspective, processed meats are not recommended.


Did you know that we review specific food products to take the time & hassle out of it for you? join our community today for access! 


Join eat sustainably