California is examining new World Health Organization findings to determine whether to add red meat and foods like hot dogs, sausages and bacon to a cancer-alert list, setting the stage for a potential battle with the meat industry over warning labels.

The inclusion of meat and processed meat on the list could reduce consumer demand, hurting major producers and processors like Hormel Foods Corp and JBS USA. It could also open the door wider for litigation against meat companies from consumers diagnosed with certain types of cancer.

California has often been at the forefront of consumer-oriented initiatives, particularly regarding agriculture. It rolled out laws for larger chicken cages and restrictions on antibiotic use for livestock ahead of much of the rest of the country.

Now the meat industry is focused on what the state will do after a unit of the WHO on Monday said processed meat can cause colorectal cancer in humans. It said the risk of developing cancer is small, but increases with the amount of meat consumed. The meat industry maintains that its products are safe to eat as part of a balanced diet.

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