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, the Cancer Registry of Norway (CRN), DTU, Nortura SA, Jæder Ådne Espeland AS, Leiv Vidar AS, Nordfjord kjøtt AS, Alna AS, Bama Gruppen AS, Animalia, Matprat, and KLF
Contact person
Portrettbilde av Ida Synnøve Bårvåg Grini
Ida Synnøve Bårvåg Grini

Senior Adviser
Phone: +47 900 98 475

Contact person
Portrettbilde av Bente Kirkhus
Bente Kirkhus

Senior Scientist
Phone: +47 900 36 851

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 VegMeatCRC 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 project so far

The project has so far provided increased insight into ingredients in sausages that can affect the formation of potentially carcinogenic compounds (e.g. nitrosamines, aldehydes, heterocyclic amines) during production, frying (160 °C) and digestion.

Addition of nitrite to the sausages increased the levels of some nitrosamines, whereas it inhibited the formation of malondialdehyde, whereas mutagens that may be formed at high temperatures, e.g. heterocyclic amines, were present at very low levels.

Preliminary results also indicate that addition of vegetable emulsion to sausages may inhibit the formation of carcinogenic compounds, both during frying and during in vitro digestion.

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