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Opinion

What we think of The WHO and bad press about bacon

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has upset the apple cart by declaring that meats are carcinogenic (and other words we can't spell) and has recommended limiting our bacon intake. Processed meats including bacon have been identified as being as "bad as smoking". Are you serious? Are we all going to give up bacon and start wearing "bacon patches" to kick the habit?

What will happen to Melbourne's obsession with burgers? Will burgers now become "baconless" in response to the WHO? What's a burger without bacon anyway? (We bet some burger house will introduce the WHO burger which will have like triple patties and triple bacon). 

Will political correctness demand that we now can't use the term "bringing home the bacon" and replace it with "bringing home the kale or quinoa"? Is BLAT now splat? The World Loves Melbourne is refusing to panic in response to these announcements by the esteemed WHO.

The World Health Organisation is a United Nations organisation responsible for coordinating world health. It sets standards for health trends. Policies are formed based on their directives. They're a big deal.

A working group of 22 experts from 10 countries reviewed the scientific literature on the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat. (They should have check out Melbourne burger blogger Instagram accounts for balance). The WHO looked at ethnicities and health patterns in populations to come up with their findings.

Processed meats encompass any meats that have been "transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation". This would include sausages, corned beef, hot dogs, beef jerky, canned meat, meat-based preparations and sauces, turkey and chicken cold cuts, as well as bacon. Red meat refers to "all types of mammalian muscle meat," such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse - even goat.

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Scientists are down on the chemicals released during the curing process including nitrates. They are also not enthused about grilling, pan frying, or barbecuing - which they say makes it all worse. We are told to really limit our intake of processed meats.

How much more bad press can our much loved bacon get? Compared to smoking! Warned about the dangers of even barbecuing our meats! Will we now have to have food labelling that warns of the dangers of bacon on the packaging? Or TV ads with heavy health pictures, tubes and all, with a loving father looking at his young daughter with regret due to years of bacon abuse? Or too many BBQ's?

This is depressing news for us meat, BBQ and bacon lovers...

Just what can we eat? It seems all the fun stuff is off limits; all we can eat is fruit and vegetables. Done a thousand ways. But preferably raw of course. How much fun is that?

We at The World Loves Melbourne love the trend to healthier eating; we we also love pork belly and bacon. We're down with the quinoa revolution and Superfood bowl bliss. But what about a balanced lifestyle and diet with everything (including bacon) consumed in moderation?

So laughable is that the world's oldest person, 116 year old woman Suzette Mushatt Jones, recently stated in the press that she eats bacon every day. Anecdotal evidence for a bacon lifestyle or is she the exception?

These things need a dose of common sense. First of all we at The World Loves Melbourne never believed the press about butter. For years we were sold the lie that butter was just so bad for you as it jettisoned your cholesterol through the roof to levels unimaginable, and that it would cause all sorts of health problems. We were kids but we still knew that butter is a natural product. How can something fake like margarine (that we're told looks black before colouring is added) be better for you than a natural product like butter? Then Time Magazine comes out with an article saying it was all a mistake; after years and years of apparent misinformation. Could bacon be the next butter (so to speak)? 

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Sure bacon requires some processing; but merely curing the pork doesn't seem that radical a process to us. The fats in bacon are oft described as "good fats". Some popular diets such as the Atkins Diet have actually prescribed bacon as a great source of protein, and will promote strong exercise regimes with high protein intake including and meats; just stay off the carbs. 

Good food is getting bad press everywhere. We're also unconvinced about the bad press concerning salt. Salt is a flavour enhancer. Sure, much of our food is processed and contains more salt than we know. But to ban salt is crazy; just consume it in moderation. We notice many Melbourne restaurants don't stock salt on the table; you have to ask for it. And you feel guilty doing so! And while we're on the matter of salt, we recently encountered a fine steak restaurant that offered mere table salt. What the heck? If you're doing salt, do it properly and get some decent pink Himalayan salt or the like.

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We are not nutritionists but we are advocates of a balanced diet and use of common sense. As people are asking "What can we now eat?" we say "Enjoy it all but in moderation." According to the WHO even 3 slices of bacon a day is too much and increases health risks materially (ok so we need to cut back). Sorry if we appear irresponsible. We are listening but will continue to enjoy processed meats, BBQs and bacon as one of the pleasures of life, including in our burgers. Will the WHO findings cripple Melbourne's burger craze and love for bacon? We think not!

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