The Division of Housing and Food Services will not alter what food it serves served on campus after the International Agency for Research on Cancer announced Oct. 28 that processed meats are carcinogenic.
DHFS prefers to give students the ability to decide for themselves how to eat, Food Service director Rene Rodriguez said.
“I think we focus more on trying to teach students with healthy suggestions, healthy menu items and things like that, so they can make choices,” Rodriguez said. “It’s about choices because, if you look at it, it would be hard every time a report came out to eliminate [certain foods and say], ‘All right, we’re not going to serve this, we’re not going to serve this, we’re not going to serve that.’”
According to an IARC press release, eating 50 grams of processed meat a day increases the chances of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Processed meat refers to any meat that has been salted, cured, smoked, fermented or altered in any way for preservation or to enhance its taste. The announcement also said that red meat “probably” causes cancer. The IARC came to this conclusion after analyzing the results of more than 800 studies.
The IARC has evaluated the cancer effects of 900 agents, or items that may cause cancer. The IARC has found that 118 of these cause cancer, including alcoholic beverages, estrogen-progestin oral contraceptives and Chinese-style salted fish. The IARC does not evaluate the risk of exposure to these agents or make recommendations.
DHFS registered dietitian Lindsay Wilson said this announcement does not change how she recommends people eat.
“I really don’t have to change that much based on this announcement just because, with a healthy diet, it’s always been recommended to have moderation and variety within the diet,” Wilson said. “Looking into what that actually means is having lean proteins, along with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, so you having a balanced plate and a balanced diet, and then always keeping in mind portion sizes.”
Nutrition senior Helen Yuan said students in her major already know some kinds of meats can cause cancer.
“In our nutrition classes, especially in the advanced ones, we’ve already talked about red meat as being probably carcinogenic,” Yuan said. “I think it’s already pretty well known by a lot of people who are nutrition majors, so I don’t think it’s really surprising to anyone.”