FSA criticised over its processed meats stance

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has come under fire for its response to the ham-in-lunchboxes furore.

Clare Cheney, the director general of the Provision Trade Federation (PTF) said that the Agency's statement supporting the use of ham in children's lunchboxes was "most welcome".

But she questioned the decision to include a warning about the high levels of saturated fat in processed meats, pointing out that, in doing so, the FSA "gave with one hand and took with the other".

In a letter to the FSA, Cheney said: "Considering the focus of media attention was ham, your blanket statement about processed meats containing high levels of saturated fat was misleading, as ham contains only around 3% total fat, of which only one-third is saturated. This fact ought to have been emphasised in your statement, so as not to give the impression to most people that ham, being a processed meat along with salami, contained high levels of fat."

The FSA released its statement on processed meats in lunchboxes after the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) warned parents that children who are given ham and salami sandwiches would have a higher chance of developing bowel cancer in later life.

The FSA said there was "no evidence" that the "occasional ham sandwich" would increase the risk of developing bowel cancer and reassured parents that processed meats are safe as part of a balanced diet. It recommended against eating processed meats too often, however, pointing out that they can contain high levels of fat, particularly saturated fat, and salt. The PTF has not yet had a response from the FSA.

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