Lunch meat

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For the film, see Lunch Meat (film).
"Cold cut" redirects here. For the English DJ duo, see Coldcut. For other uses, see Cold Cuts (disambiguation).
Lunch meat
Cold cuts.jpg
A tray of assorted lunch meats
Alternative names Cold cuts, luncheon meats, sandwich meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, cold meats, deli meats
Main ingredients Meat or cheese
Cookbook: Lunch meat  Media: Lunch meat

Lunch meats—also known as cold cuts, luncheon meats, sandwich meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, cold meats, smallgoods and deli meats—are precooked or cured meat, often sausages or meat loaves, that are sliced and served cold or hot on sandwiches or on party trays.[1] They can be bought pre-sliced in vacuum packs at a supermarket or grocery store, or they can be purchased at a delicatessen or deli counter, where they might be sliced to order.


The World Cancer Research Fund International guidelines on cancer prevention state avoiding all processed meats.[2] Lunch or processed meat is a powerful multi-organ carcinogen contributing to cancer growth.[3]

Most pre-sliced lunch meats are higher in fat, nitrates, and sodium than those that are sliced to order, as a larger exposed surface requires stronger preservatives.[1] As a result, processed meats significantly contribute to incidence of heart disease and diabetes, even more so than red meat.[4]

A prospective study following 448,568 people across Europe showed a positive association between processed meat consumption and mortality, due to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.[5] Similarly, a prospective study in United States following half a million people concluded a similar association with death and increased processed meat consumption.[6]


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that those over 50 reheat lunch meats to "steaming hot" 165 °F (74 °C) and use them within four days.[7]

Regional differences[edit]

Commonwealth countries[edit]

In Commonwealth countries, luncheon meat specifically refers to products that can include mechanically reclaimed meat and offal. In these countries, the terms cold meats, cooked meats, deli meats or sliced meats are used instead.

Latin America[edit]

The Spanish word for lunch meat, fiambre, is also used in street slang to refer to a dead body (more common in Chile and Argentina), because of the word used to express low temperatures of the bodies. In Brazil, the Portuguese for ham, presunto, is also used with the same meaning.

In Guatemala, a lunch meat is a traditional dish eaten in November. It is eaten the first and second day of the month to celebrate "El día de Todos los Santos" (All Saints' Day) and "El día de Todos los Difuntos" (All Souls' Day). There are two types: red and white.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Phil Lempert (27 December 2006). "The 5 things you need to know about deli meats". Today Food. NBC News. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Animal foods | World Cancer Research Fund International". Retrieved 2015-12-17. 
  3. ^ De Stefani, E.; Boffetta, P.; Ronco, A. L.; Deneo-Pellegrini, H.; Correa, P.; Acosta, G.; Mendilaharsu, M.; Luaces, M. E.; Silva, C. (2012-10-23). "Processed meat consumption and risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay". British Journal of Cancer 107 (9): 1584–1588. doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.433. ISSN 1532-1827. PMC 3493769. PMID 23011480. 
  4. ^ Micha, Renata; Michas, Georgios; Mozaffarian, Dariush (2012-12-01). "Unprocessed red and processed meats and risk of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes--an updated review of the evidence". Current Atherosclerosis Reports 14 (6): 515–524. doi:10.1007/s11883-012-0282-8. ISSN 1534-6242. PMC 3483430. PMID 23001745. 
  5. ^ Rohrmann, Sabine; Overvad, Kim; Bueno-de-Mesquita, H. Bas; Jakobsen, Marianne U.; Egeberg, Rikke; Tjønneland, Anne; Nailler, Laura; Boutron-Ruault, Marie-Christine; Clavel-Chapelon, Françoise (2013-01-01). "Meat consumption and mortality--results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition". BMC medicine 11: 63. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-63. ISSN 1741-7015. PMC 3599112. PMID 23497300. 
  6. ^ Sinha, Rashmi; Cross, Amanda J.; Graubard, Barry I.; Leitzmann, Michael F.; Schatzkin, Arthur (2009-03-23). "Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people". Archives of Internal Medicine 169 (6): 562–571. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.6. ISSN 1538-3679. PMC 2803089. PMID 19307518. 
  7. ^ "CDC: Over 50? Heat cold cuts to 165 degrees to avoid listeria". 

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Cold cut at Wikimedia Commons