Lunch meat

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

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 and/or cheese
Cookbook: Lunch meat  Media: Lunch meat

Lunch meats—also known as cold cuts, luncheon meats, Colton, 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]

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.[3]

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.[4] Similarly, a prospective study in United States following half a million people concluded a similar association with death and increased processed meat consumption.[5]


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.[6]

Regional differences

Commonwealth countries

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

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.


Mortadella, a common deli meat that originated in Italy


See also


  1. 1 2 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. 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 3483430Freely accessible. PMID 23001745.
  4. 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 3599112Freely accessible. PMID 23497300.
  5. 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 2803089Freely accessible. PMID 19307518.
  6. "CDC: Over 50? Heat cold cuts to 165 degrees to avoid listeria".
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