Cancer Risk from Antibiotics in Processed Meats

The Physicians Committee

Cancer Risk from Antibiotics in Processed Meats

April 11, 2016


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Friday that it is taking steps to rescind its approval of the antibiotic carbadox—which has been used to control dysentery and to promote weight gain in pigs since the 1970s—because the drug may leave trace amounts of a carcinogenic residue. The agency says that “there could be potential risk to human health from ingesting pork, especially pork liver, derived from carbadox-treated pigs. … Pork liver is used to make liverwurst, hot dogs, lunchmeat and some types of sausage.”

Removing antibiotics will not eliminate the cancer risk associated with processed meats, which the World Health Organization has declared “carcinogenic to humans.” Processing and other cooking methods for meat produce various carcinogenic chemicals. Learn more about the dangers of processed meats at

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA takes steps to withdraw approval of the swine drug carbadox due to safety concerns. U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Accessed April 11, 2016.


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