You probably still remember where you were when the World Health Organization announced that eating processed meats increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The announcement that likened bacon consumption to smoking in terms of cancer risk caused mild panic among carnivorous Americans.
As you know, we at Wild Zora make meat snacks. Should you be worried about eating them?
Here are four things you need to know:
1. Processed Meat
The WHO defines processed meat as "meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood. Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces."
How are Wild Zora bars different?
The big difference here is that some companies “bake” or “cook” their meat protein-based products at high heat in order to dehydrate them more quickly, which then causes the formation of the compounds that are suspected to cause cancer. The worst offenders would be grilling, frying, and broiling, but baking too, if it causes a browning action, does the same. At Wild Zora, we DO NOT do any of these things. We use a more time-consuming (and to be honest, more expensive) low-heat slow-dehydration method which does not cause any browning at all, and so formation of these dangerous compounds is avoided.
Summary: Look for meat snacks that have been dehydrated slowly, at lower temperatures.
2. What chemicals are found in processed meat?
Summary: Although we need more research, we already strongly suspect that MSG and added nitrates and nitrites in processed meats are harmful to your health. Read labels carefully and avoid meat snacks that contain MSG, nitric acid, nitrites, or nitrates.
3. Cancer Prevention
Scientists agree that eating diets rich in fiber that include a variety of fruit and vegetables can lower your risk of colon cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, and lowering your alcohol intake can also help your odds.
Not only are the Wild Zora bars processed in a safe way and contain no potentially harmful additives, they also contain about vegetables and fruit, giving your body added nutritional benefit.
Summary: Look for meat snacks that also contain fruits and vegetables.
4. Some Meats Are Healthier Than Others
The overwhelming majority of processed meat start with the cheapest ingredients, which means commercially produced meat. At Wild Zora, we only use 100% grass-fed meats, or in the case of turkey and pork, meats that come from naturally raised animals. Commercially produced meat is typically full of antibiotics and growth hormones. That type of meat doesn't meet our standards and we never use it.
We found that grass-fed meat tastes better and is better for you. If you are worried about colon cancer, you should definitely make sure you eat beef and lamb that is 100% grass-fed. Grass-fed meat has significantly higher levels of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), which has been linked to lowering the cancer risk, particularly in the colon area.
Summary: Choose meat snacks made with naturally raised meat, 100% grass-fed, with no antibiotics or growth hormones, like the meat used in Wild Zora bars.
Ready to try a healthy meat snack? We have seven delightful flavors - pick a favorite or try them all!