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Poloney Boloney

Lynne Brown
BSc Hons, HDE, Dip Clin Nutr

When in 390BC, Hippocrates said: “Let food be your medicine…”, believe me, he was not talking about polony (and he most certainly wasn’t talking boloney either.)
Have you ever investigated what goes into processed meats such as polony and Vienna sausages? Rumour has it that it’s all sorts of horrendous animal body parts and fats. Would you eat the anal glands, feet, ears, udders, snouts and arteries of animals? Well if there’s any truth in these rumours and you’re eating polony, then chances are that you’re doing just that: all ground up with some real meat, hopefully, and loads of fat holding it all together. Not to mention all the chemicals and carcinogens which go into making these foods look appetizing and palatable enough to consume.

Feeding schemes

I know people mean well and charities that run feeding schemes for poverty-stricken children need to be commended, however when I see an HIV positive child holding a big chunk of white bread in one hand and a fat slice of bright pink polony in the other, I want to head for the hills.

Why use them?

Processed meats are not cheap. So why are they used by such feeding schemes or by anyone, for that matter? Well they are convenient of course: Sliced–to-go, so to speak. This advantage, I’m sorry to say, does not outweigh the disadvantages. Firstly, a processed meat such as polony has had all nutritional value processed right out of it and does not carry within it the enzymes, vitamins and minerals required for its digestion. As such the body has to draw on its own reserves of nutrients and enzymes to metabolize it, thus depleting the immune system further. Not a good food for an already immune-depleted body of a starving or sick child or any one else for that matter. Secondly, these foods are loaded with chemicals and carcinogens that are horrendously detrimental to health. So are we doing these trusting kids any favours at all, apart from temporarily satisfying their hunger?

Stomach cancer

A review of available research indicates that the more processed meat you eat, the more likely you are to develop stomach cancer. Processed meats include bacon, hot dogs sausages, polony, salami, ham, and smoked or cured meat. The review looked at 40 years' worth of studies on the relationship between these meats and stomach cancer. Some of the studies examined thousands of people. Higher processed meat intake was associated with greater stomach cancer risk, especially for bacon. According to the studies, adding 1 ounce of processed meat to your daily diet elevates your stomach cancer risks by as much as 38 percent. Particularly problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats. Other likely contributors are excess salt and smoking that extend the shelf-life of such products.

Colorectal cancer

In a recent study, over 1,500 patients suffering from precancerous polyps of the colon were given a survey about their diet. Several years later, they were examined again to see if their polyps had returned. The patients who consumed diets higher in processed meats experienced a greater risk of the problem recurring. However, those with diets high in certain meats, like chicken, were less prone to the risk. The World Cancer Research Fund recently announced that eating just one sausage a day increases the chances of developing bowel cancer by 20 percent.  The recommendation from the UK-headquartered cancer charity amounts to an outright avoidance of all processed meats, including biltong (sadly).

Avoid them

The more processing you do to your food the less likely the food will nourish you and the more likely that it will actually contribute to your premature death. Someone has to spend time in the kitchen to prepare your meals for you. Relying on the convenience of a major industrial operation to do this, is seriously short-sighted. You may be paying less now in time and money but the future "bill" you will get cannot be paid with money but only with years subtracted from your life and the vitality and energy that you need to really enjoy life.


The general strategy here is to restrict your meat choices whenever possible to grass-fed and organic meats, cooked in their natural state. Keep your consumption of processed meats down to a monthly “treat” – well that’s if you can still think of them as a treat? I think I’ll just head for the hills now……

Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional.  All serious disease needs a physician.

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