Kiwis are being urged to take a hard look at how much meat they eat - but not to cut it out completely - after a new report on its health risks.
Processed meats such as bacon, ham and cured sausages have been ranked in the same category as cigarettes and asbestos as a cause of cancer in a World Health Organisation report.
The report said every 50g of processed meat eaten each day - equivalent to two slices of bacon or one cured sausage - increased the chance of bowel cancer by 18 per cent.
Fresh red meat was ranked on the next level, as a "probable" carcinogen, which meant there was "limited evidence" it causes cancer.
New Zealand is ranked seventh worldwide for meat consumption per capita - but health experts say the important thing is moderation.
Kiwis eat an average of 22g of processed meat a day, just over half the danger level for cancer risks to kick in.
Healthy Food Guide nutritionist Claire Turnbull said eating red meat was fine in moderation. "There's those people who eat the odd bit of bacon with their eggs benedict and then there's people [whose] staple meat is luncheon and corned beef. They need to go: 'Right, this is a good time for me to change my habits around this'."
She said people who ate too much red or processed meat should consider cutting down for health benefits other than reducing their cancer risk.
They could look for healthy alternatives such as eggs, fish, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and vegetables, she said.
"If you have one ham sandwich a week, just make sure you're having a range of others as well."
Ms Turnbull said a lot of kids had ham sandwiches every day, so parents should vary their lunch.
Top 10 Meat-eating countries, kg per capita, annually
1. Australia -- 90.2kg
2. United States -- 90kg
3. Argentina -- 86.6kg
4. Israel -- 86kg
5. Brazil -- 78kg
6. Uruguay -- 75.7kg
7. New Zealand -- 72.8kg
8. Chile -- 69.8kg
9. Canada -- 69kg
10. European Union -- 64.8kg
(Source: FAO, 2014)