Here’s How Much Bacon You Need To Eat To Die Young

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Wednesday we learned that processed meats — including bacon and sausages — are linked to premature death. BMC Medicine reported that, specifically, too much meat can lead to cardiac problems and cancer. The study is correlational, but the authors suggest that the preservatives in these foods, which include salt, smoke, and nitrates, could be part of the problem. Specifically, 160 grams of processed meat per day will cause premature death.

According to Betsy Booren, chief scientist for the American Meat Institute Foundation, 160 grams of processed meat is equal to 5.6 ounces. 

That’s five times the amount of processed meat consumed, on average every day, in the U.S. — the average being 23 grams (or less than one ounce).

But, how much bacon is 160 grams really?

About a package and a half (uncooked) bacon every day, per our calculations. [Our calculations are at the bottom of the post.]

While half a package of bacon seems like a lot, if you add in other processed meats, like sausages and hot dogs, there’s a chance that you could exceed the recommended limit.

So what about those hot dogs?

Eating 2.8 Ballpark Classic Franks a day will lead to premature death, according to the study.

One Hebrew National Hot Dog from Costco weighs in at 7.9 ounces (or more, some sources weigh it at 8.3 ounces, though that could be including the bun and condiments), already over the limit of processed meat you can safely eat in one day.

These are pretty high amounts to be eating on a daily basis, Booren noted:

In addition, a close look at the data in the study, which the researchers fail to reference, reveals that consuming between 20 and 40 grams of processed meat per day does not increase risk. It’s only when processed meat consumption reaches very high levels, which may represent a truly imbalanced diet, that increased risk is observed.

Here are our bacon calculations:

160 grams of cooked bacon is the same as 0.35 pounds. Going back to the bacon you would actually purchase at the store, we found that 1 pound of uncooked bacon yields about 1/4 pound of cooked bacon. So we’ve calculated that 160 grams, or 5.6 ounces of cooked bacon would come from 1.4 pounds of uncooked bacon.

And our hot dog calculations:

A Ballpark Classic Frank weighs in at 57 grams. 160 grams divided by 57 grams equals about 2.8 hot dogs per day if you want to commit wiener suicide.

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