The Department of Health has issued advice on eating red and processed meat.
It comes after a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) - which classifies processed and red meats as 'carcinogenic to humans'.
It says there is a clear link between eating too much processed meat and bowel cancer and that red meat is a likely cause of some cancers.
The WHO has said there is "sufficient evidence" to link foods such as hot dogs, sausages and ham to cancer - and they are now being included in the same group as tobacco, diesel fumes and asbestos.
Red meat - including lamb, beef and pork - has been classified as a "probable" carcinogen, meaning it will be grouped with glyphosate, an active ingredient in many weedkillers.
A study published in Lancet Oncology says "high-temperature cooking by pan-frying, grilling, or barbecuing generally produces the highest amounts" of carcinogenic chemicals.
There are also "positive associations" between the consumption of red meat and the development of pancreatic or advanced prostate cancer, as well as a link between processed meat and stomach cancer.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is warning against an overreaction to the new research.
Now the Department of Health has weighed in, saying: "Meat is an important source of protein, Iron and vitamins. Eating healthy food and being physically active will help to improve health. The most important goal is to try to eat a balanced diet".
"The current Irish healthy eating guidelines and food pyramid provide practical help on the correct amount of nutrients - protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to maintain good health".
"Foods that contain the same types of nutrients are grouped together on each of the shelves of the food pyramid. Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts are included on the Protein shelf of the pyramid".
The advice is:
- Individuals can choose two servings a day from this shelf. Go for a variety of choices. Choose lean meat, trim excess fat and remove skin from poultry. It is better to choose fish twice a week
- Limit processed meats such as bacon or ham
- You do not need large amounts of meat: 50-75 grams of cooked lean beef is one serving
Mary Flynn is the chief specialist in public health nutrition with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
And she told the Pat Kenny show here on Newstalk the WHO are not talking about risks associated with meat, but rather the strength of evidence from other studies.
IFA president, Eddie Downey, says advisories have been issued about other foods in the past that have since been reversed.
"It's a hugely important industry to us - but I think if we manage it right, don't have an over-reaction to it and let's see how it runs out" he told Newstalk Breakfast.
"Remember butter a few years ago, we were told it was bad for you - and butter sales collapsed, milk prices collapsed, and now they tell us that butter is good for us".
"That's the same people making the same statements" he added.
Cliodhna Foley-Nolan is the director of human health and nutrition with Safefood.
She told Newstalk Breakfast people should be clear on exactly what is 'processed' meat.