There is a new round of scaremongering about nitrates / nitrites - eg https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46710071
I think this is misinformed. I think adding nitrates/nitrites appropriately increases the safety of these products. I want to put together a counterargument with authoritative sources that makes the following points :Leading scientists and a cross-party group of politicians are calling for chemicals called nitrites to be removed from processed meats like bacon.
Cancer specialists and politicians are among those backing the campaign to take out nitrites.
They say nitrite-free alternatives are safer and should be more widely used.
- - nitrates/nitrites are the only effective way of preventing botulism - which otherwise would kill a lot of people
- the amount of nitrates/nitrites put into cured meats is small compared to other sources
- for example many vegetables contain vastly more than any cured meat
- the curing process uses up the nitrates/nitrites. I had a lab test done on some dry cured sausage that showed there was zero detectable nitrate or nitrite in the finished product.
- some people claim that nitrates in vegetables are not a problem because they contain vitamin C which reduces the risk of nitrosamine formation, however exactly the same effect is created in cured meat by adding Vitamin C (or close equivalents like sodium ascorbate / erythorbate).
- Nitrosamines (the cancer causing chemicals) are only produced when nitrates are cooked at very high temperatures - almost burned - if more modest temperatures are used then no nitrosamines are created.
- If there is any risk from eating cooked cured meats, then there is a much greater risk from eating cooked vegetables - especially if they are cooked at high temperatures. e.g. stir fried veg in a wok must be super dangerous?
- Most of the 'nitrate free' products are actually produced by adding celery salt or some other source of nitrates - which is just dishonest.
- There are lots of good reasons to only eat cured meats in moderation - e.g. salt intake, calories etc. Fear of nitrates/nitrites are not a good reason.
thanks - reddal