Processed Meat Causes Cancer


By Joelle Saadeh ’17

Processed meats are proven to cause cancer, according to the study done by The World Health Organization (WHO).

According to, processed meat is modified to maintain taste and shelf life. Some methods used to preserve the meat include smoking, salts, and other preservatives. Some examples of processed meats are hot dogs, bacon, salami, beef jerky, and ham. Processed meats usually contain beef and pork, which are red meats.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed when meat is over heated at high temperatures. PAHs are found to cause changes in the DNA composition according to and can cause cancerous cells and tumors. An estimated 34,000 people die due to diets that contain high portions of meat according to

There was a case in California where the Rancho plant slaughterhouse was charged for the distribution of cancerous beef from 79 cancer-eyed cows which are cows, that have cancer in their eyes and eyelids.  The heads of the sick cows were being replaced with those of healthy cows for inspection reasons, and they were using fake inspection stamps. In February, 9 million pounds of meat was distributed from the Rancho plant. Should processed meats like chicken nuggets, hamburgers, and chicken patties be distributed in our the cafeteria?

“Make it fresh!”said Nadine Adham ’18. “It’s not good to eat processed meats, less people are going to eat school lunch if that is the case.”

According to The New York Times article Why Students Hate School Lunches, students “are no longer served greasy pizza, salty french fries and sauced up chicken wings.” This is because since 2012, lunches were to have lower concentrations of fats, sodium, more vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, and fruits. Even students recognized the drastic change in school lunch.

“I noticed that they offer smaller portions of meat both in lunch and breakfast.” said Adham’18, “ I see more people getting school lunch too.”

To lower the obesity rate, meals are improving over time in New York public schools. According to the study  Processed Meats in Schools: Putting Children at Risk for Cancer held by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, shows that in 2008 The New York City Department of Education had a failing grade since “at least one menu had more than 20 percent of meals containing processed meats” for every 50 grams of processed meat consumed there is an increased 18 percent predicted development of colorectal cancer according to WHO.

“I feel better about eating school lunches since there are better choices to pick from,” said Adham ’18.

Laura Guichardo’17, “Meals should have more of a variety of foods that include meat, specially breakfast. And I really enjoy meat.”

As school lunch changes, so will the health of students. Meat contains toxins, hormones, metals, and antibiotics. Even the largest fast-food restaurants meet higher safety standards for meat than any school lunch according to The US Department of Agriculture supplies schools with meat from old chickens, which would usually be used for pet food or compost.

Also there is a far more rigorous check for pathogens in fast-food meat. Ground beef made for fast-food restaurants is tested five to ten times more than school beef.

“All I known is that white meat is healthier than red meat but it is ok to have a balance of both,” said Guichardo’17.

Students definitely have a greater chance of having cancer if they eat processed meat explained Adham’18. School lunch has improved  based on what she said.

“I feel better about eating school lunch since we have better choices now,” said Adam’18

Today 31 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program, and 11 million participate in the School breakfast program according to Only 21 million children qualify for free lunch. School lunch may be the only meal that a student has. There is a need for nutritious and healthy food for all.

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