Nitrite and Bacon

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redzed
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Post by redzed » Sun Nov 02, 2014 19:27

In my post above I provided a link to Stan's recipe for dry cured bacon:

Ingredients per 1000g (1 kg) of meat
salt 150 g (3%) 4.8 oz.
sugar 68 g (1.5%) 2.4 oz.
Cure #1 7.8 g 0.02 oz.


One of of our members has noted in a PM to me that the amount of nitrite (Cure #1) in the above formulation exceeds the USDA allowable limits for bacon. He was correct in that 7.8 grams of Cure #1 per one kilogram of product works out to 487.5ppm. While the USDA allows as much as 625ppm in dry cured meats such as hams, picnics, loins, etc., there are special regulations for bacon, allowing the maximum amount of 200ppm. Using this nifty calculator, http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage ... calculator the correct maximum amount of Cure # 1 would therefore be 3.2g or .113 oz.

Check out the USDA Inspectors Handbook here:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSI ... 7620-3.pdf

In Canada the maximum nitrite amounts allowable for cured products is lower. For cured meat products, the maximum input for sodium nitrite is 200 ppm, and only 120ppm (1.92g of Cure #1 per kg) for bacon. From my understanding of the regulations of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, no distinction is made between amounts of sodium nitrite in immersion cured or dry cured products.
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/meat-a ... 0525354148

It's a good lesson to know this stuff since there are so many recipes available on the internet that have errors or are just plain wrong, that we should be able to recognize them.
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Sun Nov 02, 2014 21:27

redzed wrote:In my post above I provided a link to Stan's recipe for dry cured bacon:

Ingredients per 1000g (1 kg) of meat
salt 150 g (3%) 4.8 oz.
sugar 68 g (1.5%) 2.4 oz.
Cure #1 7.8 g 0.02 oz.


One of of our members has noted in a PM to me that the amount of nitrite (Cure #1) in the above formulation exceeds the USDA allowable limits for bacon. He was correct in that 7.8 grams of Cure #1 per one kilogram of product works out to 487.5ppm. While the USDA allows as much as 625ppm in dry cured meats such as hams, picnics, loins, etc., there are special regulations for bacon, allowing the maximum amount of 200ppm. Using this nifty calculator, http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage ... calculator the correct maximum amount of Cure # 1 would therefore be 3.2g or .113 oz.

Check out the USDA Inspectors Handbook here:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSI ... 7620-3.pdf

In Canada the maximum nitrite amounts allowable for cured products is lower. For cured meat products, the maximum input for sodium nitrite is 200 ppm, and only 120ppm (1.92g of Cure #1 per kg) for bacon. From my understanding of the regulations of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, no distinction is made between amounts of sodium nitrite in immersion cured or dry cured products.
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/meat-a ... 0525354148

It's a good lesson to know this stuff since there are so many recipes available on the internet that have errors or are just plain wrong, that we should be able to recognize them.
FWIW,
The 200ppm is for bacon that is hung and "dry-cured" for an extended period of time, in the fashion of country ham and the like, it doesn't apply to bacon that's cured short term, as far as the FSIS is concerned.

Some folks get very confused about this and it has led to a lot of debate, but the handbook is fairly clear about what is meant by "Dry Cured" (I've also confirmed this by communicating with a FSIS inspector supervisor) and as far as the 200 ppm nitrite limit in bacon goes, it's obvious that it's not a short term cure where a "dry cure" mix is applied...the type of curing that most folks do.

Page 28:

INGREDIENT LIMITS

Dry Cured Bacon (rind-off): A maximum of 200 ppm of nitrite or equivalent of
potassium nitrite (246 ppm) can be used in dry cured bacon. Note: the calculation method for
nitrite in dry cured bacon is the same as that for nitrite in other dry cured products
. Refer to
pages 24-27.


Page 24:

NITRITE USED IN DRY CURED PRODUCTS

The amount of ingoing nitrite used in dry cured products, such as country ham, country style pork
shoulder, prosciutto, etc., is based on the green weight of the meat or poultry in the product
formulation. These products are prepared from a single intact piece of meat or poultry that has
had the curing ingredients directly applied to the surface, and has been dried for a specified period
of time.
For large pieces of meat, the curing ingredients must be rubbed on the surface several
times during the curing period. The rubbed meat or poultry cuts are placed on racks or in boxes
and allowed to cure. Nitrite is applied to the surface of the meat or poultry as part of a cure
mixture.


Source: Processing Inspectors' Calculations Handbook

So, if one wishes to use the FSIS information as a guide in home curing...120ppm nitrite is limit which should be observed.

HTH

~Martin
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Post by Bob K » Sun Nov 02, 2014 22:10

A lot of the confusion comes from the difference between dry cured and dry rubbed (massaged)


They also require a cure accelerator in commercial products

Pumped and/or Massaged Bacon (rind-off): An amount of 120 ppm sodium
nitrite (or 148 ppm potassium nitrite), ingoing, is required in pumped and/or massaged bacon,
except that 100 ppm sodium nitrite (or 123 ppm potassium nitrite) is permitted with an
appropriate partial quality control program, and except that 40 - 80 ppm sodium nitrite (or 49 -
99 ppm potassium nitrite) is permitted if sugar and a lactic acid starter culture are used. 550 ppm
sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate (isoascorbate), ingoing, is required in pumped and
massaged bacon
, in addition to any prescribed amount of nitrite.
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Sun Nov 02, 2014 22:32

That is correct...accelerator is required in pumped and massaged bacon but not in immersion cured.


~Martin
Last edited by DiggingDogFarm on Sun Nov 02, 2014 23:23, edited 1 time in total.
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redzed
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Post by redzed » Sun Nov 02, 2014 22:47

I agree that the 120ppm amount should used so that you don't go under the required content, but at the same time, the definition of dry cured in the handbook is not made clear. In this USDA document http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsi ... y/ct_index "dry cured is defined as:

Dry-cured" bacon has a premeasured amount of cure mixture applied or rubbed onto the bacon belly surfaces, completely covering them. Additional cure may be rubbed in over a number of days, but the amount of added sodium nitrite cannot exceed 200 parts per million (ppm). After the curing phase, the bacon may be left to hang for up to 2 weeks in order for the moisture to be drawn out. Less time is needed if it is going to be smoked. Because of the lengthy processing time and labor required, dry-cured bacon is more expensive than the more mass-produced, pumped bacon.

So if one applies a mixture of nitrite and to a belly and cures the bacon for a period of ten days, rinses, equalizes for a couple of days, then smokes the bacon, how does this not fit the definition? Note the wording, "the bacon may be left to hang for up to 2 weeks", here the term "may" and not "must" is used.

While I am stating that you are wrong, if indeed there is a more complete definition, I would certainly like to see it. Your statement that you confirmed this with an FSIS inspector is hearsay and not corroborated by adequate documentation.
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Sun Nov 02, 2014 23:12

A couple of things to keep in mind, the guide isn't intended for the general public so it leads to a lot of confusion, which is why I called the FSIS for clarification on this subject and a few others.
Most importantly, bacon is unique in that the USDA wants to limit residual nitrite as much as possible by the time the bacon....commercial bacon...reaches the consumer in order to limit the possibility of nitrosamine production during cooking...that alone attests to the fact that higher ppm of nitrite is intended for longer cures. That's why the nitrite limit for dry-cured bacon is 200ppm (long cure time)...120ppm without accelerators for immersion cured bacon (medium cure time) and 120ppm with accelerators for pumped or massaged bacon (very short cure time.)

Hearsay?

Here's a quote from an email reply that I received from FSIS which includes the phone number I called for confirmation:

"You may also wish to contact the Policy Development Division. Call 1(800) 233-3935 and press 6 for their extension.

We hope you find this information helpful.


Small Plant Help Desk

infosource@fsis.usda.gov

1-877-374-7435"


HTH

~Martin
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Sun Nov 02, 2014 23:22

Another point:

"After the curing phase, the bacon may be left to hang for up to 2 weeks in order for the moisture to be drawn out."

The 2 weeks of hanging comes after the "curing phase", which can be 10 to 14 days itself....and after the "2 week" or so hang there's the smoking phase....which can be several days.

That's the process followed by some of the curers of southern dry-cured country bacon.


~Martin
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Post by redzed » Sun Nov 02, 2014 23:27

DiggingDogFarm wrote:A couple of things to keep in mind, the guide isn't intended for the general public so it leads to a lot of confusion
Sorry, but I don't see how Joe Butcher from Hicksville can better understand the guide better than me, Joe Public. And all I have here is what you said what the person told you. I think it was Von Ranke who once said, "without documents, it never happened".
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Sun Nov 02, 2014 23:38

redzed wrote:
DiggingDogFarm wrote:A couple of things to keep in mind, the guide isn't intended for the general public so it leads to a lot of confusion
Sorry, but I don't see how Joe Butcher from Hicksville can better understand the guide better than me, Joe Public. And all I have here is what you said what the person told you. I think it was Von Ranke who once said, "without documents, it never happened".
It's an inspector's handbook, it's not a butcher's handbook.
The book is a calculations reference for FSIS inspectors...not butchers and not the general public.

"Processing Inspectors' Calculations Handbook Revised 1995"



~Martin
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Post by Bob K » Mon Nov 03, 2014 00:15

Maybe we could split this topic and try to come up with a GUIDELINE for the home processor.

Unless someone knows if one now exists that most folks can understand.
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Post by sawhorseray » Mon Nov 03, 2014 06:38

DiggingDogFarm wrote:
redzed wrote:
DiggingDogFarm wrote:A couple of things to keep in mind, the guide isn't intended for the general public so it leads to a lot of confusion
Sorry, but I don't see how Joe Butcher from Hicksville can better understand the guide better than me, Joe Public. And all I have here is what you said what the person told you. I think it was Von Ranke who once said, "without documents, it never happened".
It's an inspector's handbook, it's not a butcher's handbook.
The book is a calculations reference for FSIS inspectors...not butchers and not the general public."Processing Inspectors' Calculations Handbook Revised 1995"~Martin
Hi Martin, it's nice to see you show up here! To those who may be wondering, Martin is a senior moderator and contributor on another highly respected sausage and meat smoking site. In the short time I've been frequenting the other site I've come to find that DiggingDogFarm is tremendously knowledgeable about most all aspects of meat smoking and charcuterie, I've got nothing but respect for him. I'd say he plays in the same league as CW, the majors. RAY
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Mon Nov 03, 2014 06:57

sawhorseray wrote:
DiggingDogFarm wrote:
redzed wrote:
DiggingDogFarm wrote:A couple of things to keep in mind, the guide isn't intended for the general public so it leads to a lot of confusion
Sorry, but I don't see how Joe Butcher from Hicksville can better understand the guide better than me, Joe Public. And all I have here is what you said what the person told you. I think it was Von Ranke who once said, "without documents, it never happened".
It's an inspector's handbook, it's not a butcher's handbook.
The book is a calculations reference for FSIS inspectors...not butchers and not the general public."Processing Inspectors' Calculations Handbook Revised 1995"~Martin
Hi Martin, it's nice to see you show up here! To those who may be wondering, Martin is a senior moderator and contributor on another highly respected sausage and meat smoking site. In the short time I've been frequenting the other site I've come to find that DiggingDogFarm is tremendously knowledgeable about most all aspects of meat smoking and charcuterie, I've got nothing but respect for him. I'd say he plays in the same league as CW, the majors. RAY
Thanks Ray!


~Martin
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Post by redzed » Tue Nov 04, 2014 08:43

Martin you have had similar discussions/debates on this very same issue on other forums with similar results. Image However, no matter how you spin your interpretation, I don't see a clear definition of the term "dry curing" in the Inspector's handbook. I searched for online USDA documentation but found almost nothing. The only brief reference in a USDA publication is here, where it states:

What are the methods of curing bacon?
There are two primary methods of curing bacon: pumping and dry curing. Although less frequently used, FSIS still receives label applications for immersion-cured bacon.

"Pumped" bacon has curing ingredients that are injected directly into the meat to speed up the curing process and add bulk. This type of mass-produced bacon is held for curing for 6 to 24 hours before being heated. If not properly drained, pumped bacon can exude white liquid during frying.

"Dry-cured" bacon has a premeasured amount of cure mixture applied or rubbed onto the bacon belly surfaces, completely covering them. Additional cure may be rubbed in over a number of days, but the amount of added sodium nitrite cannot exceed 200 parts per million (ppm). After the curing phase, the bacon may be left to hang for up to 2 weeks in order for the moisture to be drawn out. Less time is needed if it is going to be smoked. Because of the lengthy processing time and labor required, dry-cured bacon is more expensive than the more mass-produced, pumped bacon.

"Immersion-cured" bacon is placed in a brine solution containing salt, nitrite, and flavoring material or in a container with salt, nitrite, and flavoring material for 2 to 3 days. Sugar, honey, or maple syrup may be added to the brine. The meat must then be left to hang until it is cured.


The wording above does not adequately support your position with any clarity. And as I stated earlier, I am not passing judgment that you are wrong, nor am I insisting that I am right. I am simply saying that I would like some authoritative clarification so that we can finally put this matter to rest. If you have a contact in a responsible position in the USDA, perhaps you can ask that individual to give us something in writing. We would all be forever grateful.

The Rytek bacon recipe that started this discussion, calls for 1/4 cup of Cure #1 for a 25lbs of bellies. I weighed a 1/4 cup of Cure #1 and it came to 73grams. Using Stan's calculator, that works out to 402ppm. I think that we can draw our own conclusions from that.

In the meantime, the next time that I will be making bacon, I will use the Canadian limit of 120ppm that does not distinguish between the different methods of curing. :mrgreen:
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Tue Nov 04, 2014 15:01

redzed wrote:I am simply saying that I would like some authoritative clarification so that we can finally put this matter to rest. If you have a contact in a responsible position in the USDA, perhaps you can ask that individual to give us something in writing. We would all be forever grateful.
I don't know how else to say it, I was looking for authoritative clarification so I contacted the FSIS at the number I posted. I spoke with an inspector supervisor in Nebraska as well as another fellow who works closely with curers of dry-cured country bacon in the south....anyone can do that.

It's important to remember that the limits are for commercial bacon, home curers are free to use as much or as little cure as they want. Some of us like to use government limits as a guide. Knowing the reason for those limits helps with understanding.
redzed wrote:In the meantime, the next time that I will be making bacon, I will use the Canadian limit of 120ppm that does not distinguish between the different methods of curing. :mrgreen:
That's the way to go!!!
It makes no sense to use more cure than necessary.....for several reasons.

Cheers, peace and bacon grease!

~Martin

PS: Something else we asked about is the ingoing nitrite limit in fermented and/or dry-cured sausages. Some say the limit is 625ppm of nitrite. The inspector supervisor said that is incorrect....the limit for comminuted meat applies to all comminuted meat...including dry-cured sausages. That limit is 156ppm sodium nitrite and 1718ppm sodium nitrate. He was quick to point out that residual nitrite in the finished dry-cured sausages (or any dry cured product) must be below 200ppm.
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Post by ssorllih » Tue Nov 04, 2014 16:10

Does anyone here know the lower effective level of nitrite?
Ross- tightwad home cook
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