If the internet enjoys one thing, it's a delicious and photo-worthy charcuterie board. And thus, it's with tender sorrow that we deliver some heartbreaking news.
Health officials in France claim to have confirmed that the preservative nitrates often added to processed meat — a category that includes those delectable cured charcuterie sausages — are linked to colon cancer. Je t'en prie, non!
The findings come from Anses, France's regulatory body for food health and safety, and supports a 2015 WHO study that placed cured and processed red meats in the same carcinogenic category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.
According to the Guardian, the French government was quick to respond the Anses recommendation that we should "deliberately [limit] exposure through food consumption," announcing almost immediately thereafter that a plan to diminish the use of nitrates is already in the works.
But restricting the harmful additives, which are used to prolong a meat's shelf life, might not be simple.
Charcuterie is not only important to a well-curated Instagram feed, but to French culture as well. As the Guardian reports, France is one of the world's top producers of the mouthwatering cold cuts, and such a plan could be a major blow to the cherished industry — a fact that French authorities seem extremely mindful of.
"It is about limiting their use to the strictly necessary," said a joint statement from the country's health and agricultural ministers, according to the Guardian. "The reduction must be done in a balanced way that guarantees food security for the consumer."
The Anses declaration did warn that reducing the use of the additives could lead to higher cases of food-related ailments like botulism and salmonella, but also provided solutions for producers of the affected meats: shorten expiration dates, and adjust manufacturing practices accordingly.
As far as consumers go, that basically means that charcuterie lovers should avoid letting meats go bad, shop as local as possible, and try to keep things as farm-to-table as possible.
While any blow to the charcuterie industry is upsetting, it does look like there's hope for les meat-makers. Charcuterie shall prevail – though based on Anses' findings, you might want to consider grabbing the nitrate-free sausages next time you build a board.
READ MORE: Charcuterie’s link to colon cancer confirmed by French authorities [The Guardian]
More on food safety: Salting Your Food Can Kill You Faster, Doctors Say