Last week the WCRF warned parents against feeding their children processed meats such as ham and salami, often placed in their lunchboxes, claiming that consumption of such products in early life could lead to negative eating habits in later years.
According to the charity, the inclusion of sandwich fillers such as ham and salami could mean children get into habits that increase their risk of developing cancer later in life.
However, Bob Farrand, director of the Guild of Fine Food, condemned the claims as scaremongering. "The most charitable thing these people can do is to shut up," he said.
Farrand argued that countries in the Mediterranean eat plates of charcuterie as a matter of course and that ham and salami "have been with us for at least 2,000 years".
"They are eaten on a large scale in the Mediterranean areas, where almost every meal begins with a plate of so-called ‘processed meats'. They also eat stacks of full-fat cheese, fish and fresh fruit and vegetables. Many, if not most, live longer than we do because balanced eating is a habit passed from generation to generation."
But Italian chef Aldo Zilli disagreed with Farrand's view and told Cateresearch: "I grew up on a farm in Pescara and we used to kill a pig every Christmas. My Dad used to make sausages, salamis and Parma ham with it but we knew what we put in there.
Zilli suggested alternatives such as fish and vegetables as possible lunchbox fillers, in accordance with the WCRF's tips which include "chicken that has not been processed, fish, houmous or low-fat cheese are easy and quick alternatives."
By Rosie Birkett
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