Cancer Council tells public school kids to stop eating ham sandwiches

The humble ham sandwich could soon disappear from lunch boxes, after the Cancer Council asked parents to ditch the processed meat.

The humble ham sandwich has come under attack, after the Cancer Council warned parents to ditch the favorite lunchbox.

A directive distributed to parents of public school students asked them to avoid giving their children the processed meat, due to suggestions the food that can increase risks for bowel cancer.

The ‘Nutrition Snippit’ memo called on parents and guardians to “ditch the ham sandwich” and seek healthy alternatives like cheese, hummus, BBQ chicken, or leftover home-cooked meat.

The instruction has caused controversy among parents, with pork producers, butchers and even politicians slamming the recommendation.

“It is a daily battle with people who just want to get into our lives, influence our opinions and tell us what we’re doing wrong,” said NSW Transport Minister David Elliott, speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

“I’m a big fan of the Cancer Council … but you’re not doing yourselves any favors when you’re trying to tell families exactly what they can and cannot eat.”

Speaking to The Daily Telegraphthe owner of Bringelly Pork and Bacon, David Bligh said it was an impractical message and a sign that political correctness gone “a little bit too far”.

“Ham is actually a product which has been developed over the last 5000 years and people have eaten it through the ages without any problems,” he said.

“The levels of paranoia on this can be too great.”

According to the World Health Organisation, processed meats like ham, bacon, salami and frankfurts are classified as a Group 1 carcinogen. This means there’s “strong evidence” that they can cause cancer.

Red meat like beef, lamb and pork are also classified as a Group 2A carcinogen, which means it probably causes cancer.

“When a chemical in red meat called haem is broken down in the gut, N-nitroso chemicals are formed and these have been found to damage the cells that line the bowel, which can lead to bowel cancer,” a report from the Cancer Council states.

“These same chemicals also form when processed meat is digested.”

Nitrate and Nitrate preservatives used to prolong the life of processed meat also produces N-nitroso chemicals which can lead to bowel cancer.

Despite the notice from the Cancer Council, a spokeswoman for the NSW Department of Education confirmed the classic sandwich option would not be banned from school lunches.

“For many students, no lunch box is complete without a ham sandwich. No public school has banned these,” a spokeswoman told The Daily Telegraph.

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