The Department of Health has waded into the row over the health risks posed by eating meat, advising consumers for the first time that cutting consumption of red and processed meat could reduce the risk of bowel cancer.

“Red meat can be part of a healthy balanced diet,” said interim chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.

“It is a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium, zinc and B vitamins.

"But people who eat a lot of red and processed meat should consider cutting down. The occasional steak or extra few slices of lamb is fine but regularly eating a lot could increase your risk of bowel cancer."

The advice follows the publication of an independent report by the independent Scientific Advisory Committee reviewing links between meat consumption and bowel cancer. It suggested those who eat at least 90g of red or processed meat a day faced higher levels of the disease.

The DoH has now recommended that consumers cut their consumption to 70g a day, equivalent to two standard beef burgers or six slices of salami.

Bowel cancer kills around 16,500 people in the UK every year.

Read more
Food minister hints at cloned meat support (23 February 2011)
Pig farmers to protest at Westminster (5 February 2011)
Second Opinion: Bring on the protein and, yes, fat (26 June 2010)