Indiana is the fifth-largest pork producing state in the nation as measured in sales, producing $1.3 billion worth of pork annually. Pork tenderloins are considered by many to be the unofficial Hoosier state food. So this week’s much-talked-about report showing a link between processed meats and cancer could strike fear into the hearts of pork producers. Except...it's not.
Purdue Agricultural Economics professor Jim Mintert says one report probably isn’t going to affect consumer attitudes toward processed meats. But depending on what happens in the future, that might change.
"If this turns out to be an initial report that stimulates a lot of subsequent news reports over an extended period of time, then we’re likely to see some impact," he says, noting widespread coverage and subsequent studies linking red meat and high cholesterol played a role in decreasing beef consumption in the past three decades.
Indiana Farm Bureau spokesman Andy Dietrick – whose organization lobbies for farmers -- says consumers should read the report, not just the headline.
"I think it’s very easy for people to see something on a website and check their twitter feed and not dig into the science behind what’s there, and do a comparison of what the risk assessment really is and what IARC is really saying when they say this is a category one carcinogen."
The IARC says a Group One carcinogen is a product that significant evidence indicates causes cancer. However, products in Group One are associated with different amounts of risk.
The report recommends people limit their intake of processed meat but abstains from suggesting people should stop eating it entirely, noting that eating meat also has known health benefits.