The sensationalised media reports a few weeks back linking the intake of processed meat including sausages to an increased risk of bowel cancer were like many a diet headline, a tad simplistic. In fact you could be forgiven after reading or hearing these reports for thinking that a few strips of bacon with your eggs or your regular sausage sandwich at Bunnings could be the end of you.
Now there are a few important things to consider before we take even more foods out of our diet. Firstly the studies that make the association between a high intake of processed meat and increased risk of bowel cancer are based on associations, not necessarily causation or intervention. Secondly, these reports fail to describe the dietary patterns which are also associated with a high intake of processed meat for example a low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. And finally, it groups all processed meats ranging from bacon to salami to sausages together when in fact these products can be very different nutritionally. So the take home message is that individual foods do not ‘cause’ cancer and when it comes to processed meat there is a big difference between downing a stick of fatty salami every few days and enjoying an extra lean sausage at your next BBQ. So if you do enjoy some bacon or a lean snag occasionally, just make sure it is the best quality and leanest you can find.
Sausage Comparison (per 100g)
Peppercorn Lean Beef Sausages
622kJ 13.3g protein 8.0g fat 3.0g Sat Fat 450mg Sodium
Woolworths Organic Beef Snags
880kJ 15.0g protein 15.1g fat 7.6g Sat Fat 310mg Sodium
Woolworths Italian Style Snags
887kJ 15.5g protein 15.9g fat 7.6g Sat Fat 545mg Sodium
Beak & Sons Traditional Beef Snags
766kJ 15.3g protein 12.2g fat 5.9g Sat Fat 432mg Sodium
Woolworths Select Beef Sausages
1040kJ 12.4g protein 18.9g fat 9.0g Sat Fat 649mg Sodium
Coles Honey BBQ Beef Snags
1020kJ 10.8g protein 18.7g fat 9.6g Sat Fat 786mg Sodium
Coles Thin BBQ Beef
942kJ 12.8g protein 17.5g fat 4.9g Sat Fat 868mg Sodium
Coles Angus Beef & Garlic
917kJ 11.1g protein 18.3g fat 7.3g Sat Fat 702mg Sodium
454kJ 20.2g protein 1.0g fat 0.4g Sat Fat 420mg Sodium
Disclaimer – I am the consultant dietitian for the Peppercorn Food Company and have recommended these products as part of a healthy well-balanced diet for more than 10 years.