WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—submitted a legal petition on March 1, the start of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, urging Amtrak to protect passengers from colorectal cancer risk by eliminating processed meats, such as hot dogs, bacon, and sausage, from its menus.
“Amtrak should help passengers protect their cabooses from colorectal cancer by eliminating processed meats from its menus,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “Evidence shows that banning hot dogs and sausage will also put passengers on the track toward improved heart heath.”
The World Health Organization recently released a report announcing that processed meats are “carcinogenic to humans.” The authors highlighted a meta-analysis that found an 18 percent increased cancer risk per 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily. Researchers also observed associations between red and processed meat products and stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.
Those who consume the most processed meat also have an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, according to a 2009 National Institutes of Health study of more than a half-million people.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which was signed into law in 2015, requires the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to consider “product development” in a section titled “Food and beverage reform.”
“As Amtrak reforms its food and beverage service and develops new food products, now is the perfect time to safeguard passenger health by eliminating processed meat from Amtrak’s food service,” says the petition, which was submitted to Charles W. Moorman IV, president and CEO of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
“Some Amtrak menus already feature a black bean and corn veggie burger and veggie lasagna with vegan mozzarella,” says Levin. “Amtrak should consider bringing on board more healthful, plant-based options like these to replace processed meat.”
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.