|Alternative names||Cold cuts, luncheon meats, sandwich meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, cold meats, deli meats|
Lunch meats—also known as cold cuts, luncheon meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, cold meats, sandwich meats, and deli meats—are precooked or cured meats that are sliced and served cold or hot. They are typically served in sandwiches or on a tray. They can be purchased pre-sliced, usually in vacuum packs, or they can be sliced to order.
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. As a result, processed meats may significantly contribute to incidence of heart disease and diabetes, even more so than red meat.
A prospective study following 448,568 people across Europe, showed a positive association between processed meat consumption and mortality caused by cardiovascular disease and cancer. Similarly, a prospective study in the US following half a million people flagged a similar association between death and increased processed meat consumption. The World Cancer Research Fund International guidelines on cancer prevention recommend avoiding all processed meats.
In 2011, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that those over age 50 reheat lunch meats to "steaming hot" 165 °F (74 °C) and use them within four days.