The World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that processed meats (including salami, pastrami, and hamburgers) cause cancer.

Instead, it is recommended to consume poultry, fish and beans as alternatives. What I don't understand is where poultry pastrami falls in this context - is it "processed" (and hence cancerous) or is it "poultry" (and hence safe)?


1 Answer 1


It's not the species of animal that matters; it's how the meat was prepared. According to the Washington Post, WHO defines processed meats as:

Processed meat includes hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef and beef jerky — or any other meat that has been cured, smoked, salted or otherwise changed to enhance flavor or improve preservation.

And according to Wikipedia, pastrami is:

Pastrami (Turkish: pastırma, Romanian: pastramă, Bulgarian: пастърма) is a meat product usually made from beef, and sometimes from pork, mutton or turkey. The raw meat is brined, partially dried, seasoned with herbs and spices, then smoked and steamed. In the United States, although beef plate is the traditional cut of meat for making pastrami, it is now common to see it made from beef brisket, beef round, and turkey. [Emphasis mine]

So yes, the WHO would say turkey and chicken pastrami are carcinogenic.

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