Health Impact of Global Meat Trade

eating meat

Meat is a staple food most sought-after by consumers alike because of both its availability and deliciousness. However, recent studies show that red meat and processed meat consumption are significantly linked to heightened health risks. According to BMJ Global Health, this is even more alarming given the constant increase in the global meat trade, which is consequently associated with multiple diet-related illnesses and deaths. 

Because of this, people should not only be more cautious about their meat consumption but also try and check for online drugstore reviews for medications that can help alleviate such diseases in the untoward event that they acquire one. 


Global Meat Trade 

For the past 30 years, a sharp rise in the processed and red meat trade has been observed, which has also been considered one of the primary causes of diet-related ill-health. This impact was greatly evident in Northern and Eastern Europe, alongside the island nations of the Caribbean and Oceania. 

global market

In fact, the global meat trade has since doubled — from 10 million tons to 24.8 million tons in 1993-1995 and 2016-2018, respectively. Researchers have particularly pointed out that not only does the meat trade cause worrying health risks, but it also poses great environmental risks and implications that can threaten biodiversity, and natural habitats and then eventually harm the health of consumers. 

top beef countries

With such a rapid increase, scientists expressed that the current global meat trade has only complicated the few efforts to make human diets more sustainable and healthy. People are getting more and more dependent on meat consumption, so meat exports have to continuously meet the growing demand. Such a situation is more harmful than not in a way because the trade, at the same time, increases meat consumption in specific countries that do not necessarily produce muchly processed and red meat for their respective markets. 

Health Risks 

The steady rate of meat consumption has only started to escalate since then, consequently contributing to an approximate 75% increase in global health burdens like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, among many others. 

eating pork

It is true that red meat can be an excellent source of various nutrients like iron and B-12, which are necessary for producing red blood cells, and muscle and tissue repair. Despite this, research has discovered that regular and over-consumption of red meat is associated with multiple health problems like kidney problems, heart disease, digestive issues, and even cancer. 

The risks are especially heightened, especially if one often consumes processed meat like sausage, hotdogs, bologna, or bacon since they are the type to carry the highest risks of health-related problems.

Here are some of the health risks that can result from over-consumption of processed meat and red meat. 

  • Heart Disease 

Different studies have expressed that regularly eating red meat leads to greater risks of heart disease.

heart problems

For many years, experts have considered that the link between red meat consumption and heart disease may be caused by the saturated fat that red meat contains. Therefore, eating huge amounts of saturated fats can only increase one’s cholesterol levels, simultaneously making one more prone to heart disease. To avoid this, people are encouraged to limit consumption and choose leaner cuts as much as possible. Even so, research is still reviewing various pieces of evidence that could prove how red meat is associated with heart disease. 

  • Cancer 

Recent researchers also forward the finding that too much red meat can increase cancer risks, even death. For one, a 2015 study shows that red meat can be carcinogenic to humans, which is also consistent with what the World Health Organization has classified. Moreover, the paper also states that several studies discovered how people who over-consume red meat and processed foods were most prone to colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, and stomach cancer. 

cancer risks

The study’s authors believe that meat processing methods, like smoking and curing, can create cancer due to chemicals. This may be one of the prime reasons why most researchers link red and processed meat consumption to increased health risks.

  • Mortality

A huge study involving over 120,000 women and men for a decade discovered that processed red meat was linked to higher risks of death. Furthermore, mortality risks also increase due to the existence of other severe illnesses like breast cancer, heart diseases, and more. Also, it was discovered that the participants who have increased half a serving of red meat for each day had at least a 10% higher risk of mortality. 

mortality levels

Fortunately, certain medications exist to help alleviate symptoms and health conditions. Even so, be sure to check online drugstore reviews to ensure that these are authentic and legitimate. 

Role of Global Meat Trade 

Scientists from the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability estimated health risk changes that can be attributed to the growing global trade of both processed and red meat.

global trade of red meat

For this, they could calculate the daily consumption of both types in 154 countries per population head, merely based on the quantities that each nation had produced, exported, imported, or wasted. Data for red meat generally included pork, goat, beef, and lamb. In contrast, the data for processed meat consisted mainly of pork and beef and the products that were preserved through curing, smoking, salting, or artificially. 

Disability and Deaths 

With the existing data on red meat and processed meat consumption across 154 countries, they examined the link between increased global trade and the 10,898 worldwide deaths between 2016 and 2018. A 74.6% increase in mortality risk was particularly noted from this. 


Furthermore, this also represents an increase of at least 4.9% to 9.7% in terms of global meat exports, with New Zealand, the United States, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and Brazil being the biggest meat-exporting nations

More specifically, the global meat trade had a considerably massive impact on small island nations and countries involved with red and processed meat import, like Singapore, Bahamas, Seychelles, and more. 

Also, even though the trade in high-income countries accounted for approximately 65% of disabilities and deaths, the health burden was most especially strained and felt in low-income countries. This is largely due to how reliant high-income countries are on imports to meet the continuous demands for meat caused by income growth and rapid urbanization. 


For all these reasons, dietary guidelines have been constantly suggested to maintain environmental sustainability and human health worldwide. However, national guidelines and different international initiatives for sustainable diets specifically call out the spillover effects caused by the global meat trade throughout different nations.

on the counter

Cross-sectoral policies aimed to reduce non-communicable and diet-related diseases, especially in vulnerable countries, are urgently needed to forward less dependence on processed meat and red meat. However, as an extra safety measure, there’s no harm in keeping track of your health from time to time through medications purchased from pharmacy stores. Despite this, always be vigilant and consult online drugstore reviews to ensure that you’re getting top-quality medicines for your health.

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