In light of the World Health Organization’s much-discussed classification this week of red meat as a carcinogen, Smithsonian.com has published a few helpful clarifications about the announcement.
First, the term “carcinogen” is frightening, but it can be misleading. The WHO doesn’t have separate categories according to how carcinogenic a substance is. Thus, plutonium and bacon fall into the same category, though one is obviously more dangerous than the other (Hint: It’s not the bacon).
Also, not all meat is included in the classification. Only red meats and processed meats are included. Meats like fish and chicken were not evaluated.
Third, the experts aren’t suggesting that everyone abandon meat. Simply eat meat in moderation.
The report also doesn’t give any clue as to how meat should be cooked or consumed. So, be aware that some cooking methods could be less harmful than others.
Lastly, the WHO’s announcement could possibly be incorporated into the USDA’s dietary guidelines. So look out for that.