The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has been putting up billboards which send the message that eating certain meat products cause cancer and are equal to smoking cigarettes. The target is processed meats such as hot dogs and bacon.
The most recent one focuses on bacon and will be on display for the next month in Des Moines, Iowa, which of course is the capital of the nation's No. 1 pork-producing state. An unlikely coincidence is that the National Pork Board will be holding a meeting on Nov. 14-16 in the city, at which time it also will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
PCRM also criticized an upcoming Bacon Festival set in Des Moines. Festival organizer Brooks Reynolds invited PCRM to attend the event and share its message.
The billboard shows bacon strips in place of cigarettes in a pack. Previous similar billboards, such as one in late July at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway warned NASCAR Sprint Cup fans about eating hot dogs. It carried the message-- “Warning: Hot Dogs can Wreck Your Health.”
Earlier this fall, PCRM posted billboards in Las Vegas and Miami also to warn the public about hot dogs, claiming that eating them could seriously damage their health and increase their risk of colorectal cancer. The Las Vegas billboard, which coincided with the Republican presidential debate, read: “There’s no debate: Hot Dogs Cause Cancer.” The Miami billboard was located near the Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium, and read: “Warning: Hot Dogs Can Take You Out of the Game.”
“A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave,” Susan Levin, PCRM nutrition education director, states on the group’s website. “Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps racing fans and other consumers understand the health risk.”
Last week Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart did a “fake news interview,” discussing the billboards and their message. A Daily Show “correspondent” spoke with PCRM’s President Neal Barnard, MD, and the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council President Janet Riley. You can view the segment on NHDSC’s website (you will need to scroll down on the page.)
PCRM contends that the “American Institute for Cancer Research shows that less than 2 ounces of processed meats eaten daily can increase a person's risk for colorectal cancer by 21 percent.”
But processed meats are not the only animal-food product on the group’s list. This fall it placed billboards outside Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, that featured the Grim Reaper and says: “Warning: Cheese Can Sack Your Health.” The target was the nation’s obesity epidemic facing children and adults alike, according to Barnard.