“Last fall, in a perfect illustration of how scientific literature and research can be distorted, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) indicated that … processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs belong in the same category as smoking and asbestos in terms of their potential to cause cancer,” writes Joseph J. Welter, Chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Toxic Torts Practice Group in a piece for Prepared Foods.
As Joe notes in the article, the media was immediately flooded with declarations that processed meats are deadly — though the news reports that followed the WHO announcement barely touched on scientific and medical fact.
“If meat really is categorized as the ‘new asbestos,’ just imagine the litigation 20 years from now — and the types of questions litigants will be asked,” he writes. “The train will have fully left the station when plaintiffs’ firms start to troll for cases and develop liability experts who, in two decades’ time, will argue that this WHO report placed manufacturers on notice that their products could cause cancer, yet they continued to sell it to the public.”
He asks: “Should insurers now start drafting ‘bacon exclusions’ to insurance policies? Will we someday have the Beef Jerky Bankruptcy Trust?”