Scores of hospitals are giving sufferers meat cured with chemical compounds that scientists and meals security specialists more and more concern might trigger most cancers.
Sixty-one NHS trusts in England are serving meat of their hospitals which will include nitrates or nitrites regardless of rising proof internationally implicating them within the improvement of most cancers.
There may be specific concern about nitrites, which are sometimes present in bacon and ham and are used to offer bacon its pink color and in addition as a preservative. Some scientists and MPs have urged the federal government to ban them from being utilized in meals preparation.
The 61 trusts embody two of the nation’s best-known hospitals which concentrate on treating most cancers – the Christie in Manchester and Royal Marsden in London.
A number of kids’s hospitals are additionally utilizing meat cured with these chemical compounds. They embody Alder Hey in Liverpool, Nice Ormond Road in London and Sheffield kids’s hospital.
“This newest investigation shines a disturbing mild on the dangers that susceptible teams, together with kids, are uncovered to in our hospitals”, mentioned Prof Chris Elliott, an professional on poisonous chemical compounds in meals, who’s a number one campaigner for nitrites to be faraway from meat manufacturing.
Given so many hospitals are nonetheless utilizing nitrite-cured meat “it’s clear that these well being dangers aren’t well-understood and restricted motion is being taken to cut back an on a regular basis most cancers threat”, he added.
“The UK authorities should comply with the newest proof and ban nitrites to maintain these cancer-causing chemical compounds out of our hospitals and actually out of our whole meals system.”
The World Well being Group has recognized nitrites as a reason behind bowel most cancers. The Conservative former well being minister Dr Dan Poulter and politicians from different events have been calling for ministers to ban them.
“These new and surprising findings spotlight simply why a ban on nitrites is so badly wanted”, mentioned Woman Ritchie, a Labour peer.
“Eliminating nitrite-cured meats, particularly in our hospitals, has the potential to cut back charges of most cancers and defend the nation’s well being.”
In March the European Meals Security Company (EFSA) declared that the degrees of nitrosamines present in meals throughout the continent akin to cured meat – chemical compounds which are carcinogenic or genotoxic – “increase a well being concern”.
The French authorities has responded to rising concern about nitrites’ impression on human well being by ordering the meat business to chop the quantity of nitrites in merchandise akin to ham and sausages.
The disclosure concerning the widespread use of nitrate and nitrite-cured meat emerged from a sequence of freedom of knowledge requests to 142 NHS trusts and well being boards in England and Wales. Of the 71 that replied, 61 – all in England – mentioned they use meat containing the compounds.
Solely 10 mentioned they didn’t serve meat containing both chemical. They embody Gloucestershire hospitals acute belief, the Tavistock and Portman psychological well being supplier in London and the ambulance providers protecting the north-east, south-west and West Midlands.
The opposite 71 didn’t reply or mentioned they didn’t maintain knowledge that allow them reply.
Elliott, a professor at Queen’s College Belfast who led a evaluation ministers ordered after the 2013 horse meat scandal, mentioned there was not any purpose for meat producers to make use of the chemical compounds as a result of different methods of curing it have existed for some years.
Marks & Spencer and Morrisons supermarkets produce their very own ranges of nitrite-free bacon, as does Finnebrogue, the Northern Irish meals agency that commissioned the liberty of knowledge trawl.
Ministers have maintained that the proof doesn’t advantage a ban on nitrites. It has justified its stance on the idea of EFSA’s earlier view of them, which noticed them as non-harmful. Nonetheless, the meals security regulator has now revised its place and made clear its concern about them.
NHS England declined to touch upon the widespread use of nitrate and nitrite-cured meat by hospitals. A spokesperson mentioned: “Whereas meals security and regulation are issues for the Meals Requirements Company and authorities, the NHS helps folks in hospital with wholesome meals and not too long ago launched new nationwide meals requirements to additional enhance catering providers for sufferers.”