Furious debate as NSW schoolkids asked to ditch ham sandwiches

·3-min read

A furious debate has erupted over information sent by the Cancer Council regarding school lunches, and one item it says should be swapped out.

Cancer Council NSW sent out information to schools, calling for people to "ditch the ham sandwich" for school lunches.

Clare Hughes from the Cancer Council's Nutrition Unit Manager told Yahoo News Australia the organisation sends out a variety of "nutrition snippets" which encourage healthy habits.

The schools which sign up to receive these digitally are under no obligation to publish them, though they may if they like. She also said some of the snippets were sent last year.

As ham sandwiches have been a lunch box staple for years, some were quick to get angry over the messaging.

People are angry the Cancer Council tried to encourage alternatives to a ham sandwich. Source: Getty Images
People are angry the Cancer Council tried to encourage alternatives to a ham sandwich. Source: Getty Images

On the Today show on Tuesday, Karl Stefanovic took aim at the idea of giving ham a miss and the Cancer Council's campaign which advocates for having a meat-free Monday.

"Children were previously told they should be having meat-free Mondays. I mean, what is happening to this country?" he said.

Even NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet weighed in on the debate and said the Cancer Council should "sit this one out", the Daily Telegraph reported.

"It's not political correctness for a health org to tell people what they know about health, FFS," someone said on Twitter in response to the outrage.

Cancer Council not trying to 'cancel' ham

The perceived attack on the ham sandwich didn't just come out of nowhere, nor is it political correctness gone mad.

"Evidence suggests that there is a link between excess consumption of processed meats and cancer risk," the Cancer Council says.

"The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found that consuming excess processed meats is a cause of bowel cancer.

"Experts concluded that over the long term, consuming a 50g portion of processed meat daily (that’s two slices of bacon) increased the risk of bowel cancer by 18 per cent. The average Australian risk for developing bowel cancer by the age of 85 is 8.2 per cent."

The Cancer Council was just trying to promote healthier sandwich fillings, given eating a lot of ham can increase the risk of bowel cancer. Source: Getty Images, file/Cancer Council
The Cancer Council was just trying to promote healthier sandwich fillings, given eating a lot of ham can increase the risk of bowel cancer. Source: Getty Images, file/Cancer Council

The Cancer Council was not forcing anyone to give up ham, it was merely a suggestion.

Ms Hughes said this particular piece of nutritional information was to simply showcase alternatives to ham and she said both the Cancer Council and other health groups consider ham to be a food people should only consume occasionally.

"We at the Cancer Council NSW deliver a healthy lunchbox website, which is really about supporting families to promote healthy habits for kids and set them up with healthy habits for life," she said.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

`
`
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting