Food and health    Raw materials and process optimisation  

The project investigates the association between consumption of processed meat (sausage) and colorectal cancer (CRC).

Time:1. January 2018 – 31. December 2020
Financed by: The Research Council of Norway
In cooperation with:NMBU, Kreftregisteret, DTU, Nortura SA, Jæder Ådne Espeland AS, Leiv Vidar AS, Nordfjord kjøtt, Alna AS, Bama, Matprat, KLF and Animalia.

Norway has the highest incidence of CRC in Europe, and in two Norwegian prospective studies frequent consumption of sausages was associated with increased risk of CRC. It is therefore an urgent need for more research that can identify potential underlying mechanisms, and at the same time find opportunities to make processed meat products healthier.

Recently, there has been an increasing interest in using vegetables in meat products. More knowledge is needed about the health effects of such products, especially if the addition of vegetables can reduce the risk of CRC. The project VegMeat will quantify potential carcinogenic compounds formed during heat treatment of test products, and in the digestive tract using in vitro models. The carcinogenic potential (tumour development) will be determined in a mouse model. Observed changes in the gut microflora will be compared with analyses of microflora obtained from individuals participating in a Norwegian CRC screening program. By using advanced statistics we hope to find associations between food ingredients, presence of carcinogenic compounds in the intestine, carcinogenic potential in mouse, and relevance to development of colorectal cancer in humans.

Results from the prosject so far

Preliminary analyses of unprocessed (minced) and processed meat (sausage) from the local grocery store indicate increased formation of potentially carcinogenic aldehydes and nitrosamines in heat treated sausage. A designed experiment is currently being performed where test sausages with varying contents of nitrite, myoglobin, erythorbic acid, and potato flour, are produced in a pilot plant. The test sausages will be analyzed for contents of potential carcinogenic compounds, i.e. aldehydes, nitrosamines, heterocyclic amines and acrylamide, before and after heat treatment, and during digestion. Sausages with vegetables will be included in order to determine if addition of vegetables can reduce the formation of unbeneficial compounds. Analytical methods have been developed and adapted to different matrices, in particular for the determination of nitrosamines and heterocyclic amines in digested material. Microflora analysis are performed on feces obtained from individuals participating in the CRC screening program. Recruitment to the program is ongoing and analysis of dietary intakes (Food Frequency Questionnaires) is performed in collaboration with the Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo.

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