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Pro-bacon backlash on social media

Negative tweets on the WHO recommendations outnumbers positive ones by more than 6.5 to 1

This ‘I heart bacon’ photo was among many pro-pork images on the Twitterverse last week.

Bacon lovers took to social media last week to express disdain over a World Health Organization report that said processed meat is likely to cause cancer.

The hashtags #FreeBacon, #Bacongeddon and #JeSuisBacon were among the top-trending topics worldwide on Twitter for a second straight day last Wednesday.

Celebrities, politicians and ordinary consumers were reacting to the announcement by the WHO that eating processed meats including hotdogs, sausages and bacon can cause colorectal cancer in humans, and that red meat is also a likely cause of the disease.

The review by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also said there was some link between the consumption of red meat and pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. The IARC examined some 800 studies during a meeting of 22 health experts earlier this month.

An analysis of social media sentiment by Thomson Reuters found that social media participants were not happy about the WHO review.

Negative tweets outnumbered positive ones by a ratio of nearly 7 to 1 on Monday and 6.5 to 1 on Tuesday, according to the analysis tool that tracks and aggregates positive, neutral and negative tweets with hashtags #cancer and #bacon in order to generate a sentiment score.

Fashion designer Kenneth Cole (@mr_kennethcole) on Tuesday tweeted “Sugar is bad for you, Carbs are bad for you, and now so is #Bacon, but don’t worry about it, because that’s bad for you too. #IfTheShoeFits”

Austrian politician Andrae Rupprechter (@Andrä Rupprechter) posted a picture of himself on his Facebook page with a platter of cold cuts, calling the WHO report a “farce.”

Germany’s agriculture minister, Christian Schmidt, also said “no one should be afraid if they eat a bratwurst (sausage) every now and then.”

WHO’s initial tweet on Monday about its findings — “The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the #cancer agency of WHO, classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)” — had more than 3,040 retweets and 1,000 favourites on Tuesday.

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