It’s a somber day for bacon lovers.
A World Health Organization (WHO) group declared on Monday that processed meat causes cancer and red meat “probably” does as well. But does that mean you should wholly abstain from hamburgers and hot dogs and confine yourself to the produce aisle of your local Whole Foods? Not necessarily. The report doesn’t call for prohibitions on meats it considers carcinogenic, but it does urge caution when deciding what meats you eat, and how often.
Read more: Meat and Cancer: What You Should Know
So how best to play by the rules? The WHO group did define what it meant by red and processed meat and listed some examples, which should probably go on your list of meats to think twice about.
Processed meat refers to meat “that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation.” The agency notes that most processed meats contain pork or beef and that they can also contain other types of red meat, poultry, offal and byproducts of meat like blood.
Per the WHO, that includes:
- hot dogs
- corned beef
- beef jerky
- canned meat
- meat-based preparations and sauces (e.g. certain kinds of Bolognese)
Red meat refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat, and includes the following:
- pork (not the “other white meat” after all, apparently)
Fresh meat that wasn’t mentioned directly by the agency is non-processed poultry and fish. Meats like fresh chicken and turkey have long been recommended as good sources of protein, and options to replace red or processed meat in the diet.
The silver lining for Americans is that even though your Christmas ham is on the no-no list, at least the star of the Thanksgiving gets a pass.
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