There is no objective reason to equate processing de facto with unhealthiness. It is true that some specific aspects of food processing may indeed be detrimental to health, for example by generating trans fatty acids or reducing the micronutrient availability, but this is mostly of little concern in the case of fermented meats like ham, salami, and sausages.
The word “processing” is defined by the Oxford dictionary as to “perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) to change or preserve it”. Some processing steps are harmless or may even be beneficial, for instance to allow for preservation or to enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients or other beneficial compounds. Binary oppositions as “processed/natural”, of which one term is more highly valued than the other, have been exposed by post-structural theory as mere cultural constructs rather than foundational categories we can confidently rely on.
Furthermore, some of the ingredients used to produce meat products have sensory, technological, and especially hygienic safety advantages which is mostly neglected, whereas their potential negative impacts are overstated. For instance, nitrate in fermented meats leads to colour and flavour development as well as enhanced food safety, while these fractions are very small compared to the intake through drinking water or vegetables.
– Gibney et al., 2017
– Cornwell et al., 2018; King and White, 1999
– Ribas-Agustí et al., 2017; Weaver et al., 2014