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Newspaper’s investigation prompts bid to ban ‘nitro’ meat in schools and hospitals

A newspaper’s investigation has prompted it to call for a ban on the use of so-called “nitro” meat in schools and hospitals.

The Herald on Sunday has revealed most councils and NHS boards use the meat, which includes preservatives such as nitrates and can increase the risk of bowel cancer.

A World Health Organisation report from 2015 put processed meat in the same carcinogenic category as smoking and asbestos.

The findings of the Glasgow-based newspaper’s investigation has prompted it to fight to “get rid of nitro-meats from schools and hospitals once and for all”.

Nitro Meat

The campaign’s launch appeared on Sunday’s front page, pictured.

In an editorial for the Herald marking the campaign’s launch, Guillaume Coudray, author of ‘How Processed Meat Became a Poison’, wrote: “Processed meats are part of our common food heritage. They do not need to be carcinogenic.

“All over Europe, a select number of meat processors are disrupting the deadly status quo in order to produce great-tasting and safer processed meats. The most famous case is Parma ham which is produced without nitrate or nitrite.

“In France, several large producers of Bayonne ham have recently switched back to the same natural, no-nitrate/no-nitrite technology. When no nitro-additive is used, the final product gets its beautiful red colour from a natural pigment.

“In the eyes of many producers, this process has one serious disadvantage: it is slow, because the formation of the natural pigment requires an enzymatic transformation of the meat. The colour, taste, and self-preservation quality of the slowly matured ham will take approximately nine months to form.

“If, instead of that, you inject the ham with nitrate or nitrite, you get the same result in just 90 days. It requires much less work and less technical qualification. No doubt it saves money. But is it really worth it? Frankfurters or bacon can also be produced without nitro-additives.

“Yet, the carcinogenic nitrate/nitrite version are still widely available in schools and hospitals all over Scotland. It seems rather absurd, to say the least: who can doubt that minimising exposure to carcinogenic agents is an absolute duty of Government?

“Removing nitro-meat from menus is now urgent, as there can be no justification to feeding cancer-promoting foods to hospital patients or to school kids.”