Who, what, why: How much red meat should we eat?

Bacon cooking

Red meat lovers have been warned to cut down their intake by the government's health advisers. So just how much red and processed meat should we consume?

Do you regularly tuck in to a couple of sizzling rashers of bacon for breakfast, a ham sandwich for lunch and a juicy rump steak for dinner?

If so, then you're probably eating more than the new recommended allowance of red and processed meat.

The Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition, which advises the government, has issued new guidelines.

The answer

  • One Big Mac a day is within the guidelines
  • A typical Sunday roast is twice the daily limit
  • And a cooked breakfast or a doner kebab is nearly twice the recommended daily portion

They say that adults are advised to consume on average no more than 70g (2.5oz) of such meat a day - about 500g (17oz) a week - in order to cut the risk of developing bowel cancer.

This is the equivalent of three slices of ham, one lamb chop or two slices of roast beef a day.

But how do our regular meaty meals fare against the new government daily guidelines?

Red meat meals versus daily guidelines

Composite image of various red meats
Meal or processed meat Cooked weight Within guideline?

Source: NHS/World Cancer Research Fund

1. Cooked breakfast



Assumes two standard sausages and two thin rashers of bacon

2. Spaghetti bolognese



Standard portion of minced beef

3. 5oz rump steak



A 5oz steak is smaller than a typical restaurant serving

4. Doner kebab



Typically comprising several slices of processed marinated lamb

5. Big Mac



Contains two thin burgers

6. Sunday roast



Assumes three slices of beef, lamb or pork

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