the government asks to reduce the levels, but does not set a ban

the government asks to reduce the levels, but does not set a ban

Eight months after the opinion issued in July 2022 by the National Food Safety Agency (Anses), confirming the link between cancer and exposure to nitrites in processed meats, the government published, on the evening of Monday March 27 , her « plan d’action » concerning these additives with preservative properties, widely used in charcuterie, but which form nitrosated compounds in the digestive tract, the genotoxic and carcinogenic nature of which is the subject of an abundant scientific literature. While consumer associations, patients and elected officials hoped for a ban, the government is content with a limitation in several stages.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The link between nitrite consumption in charcuterie and cancer confirmed by health authorities

This plan, co-signed by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, displays for “ambition to remove nitrites from our diet as much as possible and wherever possible”. On certain categories of charcuterie (cooked hams and bacon in particular), the government expects the sector to have reduced the maximum levels of these nitrate additives by 20 to 25% by the end of April. For other categories (andouillettes, rillettes, etc.), the government gives companies 6 to 12 months to reduce these levels. And finally, the authorities allow themselves five years for research to find “solutions aimed at accentuating the trajectory of reduction or elimination of the use of nitrites”.

The ANSES opinion of July 2022, which had reassessed the risks of exposure to nitrites and nitrates at the request of the government, had confirmed, several years later, the conclusions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, an organization attached to the World Health Organization), which in 2015 classified processed meats in the proven carcinogenic category. But for Fabien Castanier, general delegate of the Federation of industrial charcutiers caterers (FICT), “ANSES recommends in its opinion a reduction in levels as low as reasonably possible, without ever considering a ban”. The sector highlights the reductions in maximum levels already recorded in 2016 in France compared to European standards. With the new reductions decided by the government, “France will have maximum levels 35 to 40% lower than regulatory levels in the European Union”continues Mr. Castanier.

“Four thousand new cases of cancer could be avoided each year by removing these nitrites. The precautionary principle has been enshrined in the Constitution for forty years. » Daniel Nizri, oncologist

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