Sodium Nitrite – What Is It?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Since the 1960s sodium nitrite has been used as a preservative in smoked meats, hot dogs, bacon, ham and sausages. Many think you should proceed with caution with foods containing sodium nitrite, but What Is It?

Sodium nitrite, a cousin to sodium nitrate, is a preservative that gives cured meats their distinctive flavor and reddish color. It also helps prevent the bacteria that causes botulism, but consumer beware. When sodium nitrite is combined with high heat it can produce a cancer-causing compound. Some researchers claim to have found a way to prevent the compound from forming, but not everyone finds truth in the claim.

What is true is that sodium nitrite tends to be used in the processing of meat products that have limited nutritional value. Oh, you can go ahead and have that hot dog or crispy bacon, but why not make it organic, better yet make it homemade and home cured. That why you know exactly what you’re eating.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Health Tech Mall

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