The recommendations are based on a report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which will be published within the next few days and is expected to find that eating less red and processed meat will decrease the risk of bowel cancer.
The government will advise that people eat no more than 500g (1.1lb) a week – roughly equivalent to a steak, pork chop, beef Bolognese and two sausages – or 70g (2.5oz) a day.
That overconsumption of red and processed meat has links to certain cancers is well documented, and the World Cancer Research Fund recommended precisely the same weekly limit in 2007.
A draft report from the advisory committee, which is made up of 17 scientists, has already suggested incidences of bowel cancer could be prevented if less of these types of meat were eaten in Britain.
The full report is expected to endorse the link. A government source said it would be “irresponsible to ignore the health risks. The advice is quite clear.”