The AHDB said a niche group of medics suggesting hospitals should stop serving sausages and bacon have misunderstood the report they are relying on to back up their claim.
The Plant Based Health Professionals group quoted a 2015 IARC report suggesting it showed a person has as much chance of developing cancer if they eat processed meat as they would if they smoked or handled asbestos, so patients, staff and visitors should not be served these products.
However, Maureen Strong, a nutritionist with the AHDB, which represents 72% of agricultural output in Great Britain, said the IARC report looks at hazards only and to suggest otherwise is misleading.
Ms Strong said: “It is a worrying that this small group of medical professionals, who people may look to for advice, are suggesting something that it is completely not true. At best, they have misunderstood the report. At worst, it seems that they are pushing a lifestyle change which could have a negative effect on the health of some people.
“We should be able to expect our hospitals to respect the importance of the totality of scientific evidence to inform policy decisions. To suggest that the IARC report on processed meat implies that it causes cancer is wrong. IARC merely performed a hazard analysis which in no way proves cause and effect.”
Ms Strong added: “A banana skin on the ground is a hazard but it does not mean that all banana skins can cause accidents and are, therefore, potentially harmful to health.”