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Meat Sci. 2007 Sep;77(1):136-47. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2007.03.025. Epub 2007 Apr 14.

Cured meat products without direct addition of nitrate or nitrite: what are the issues?

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1
Department of Animal Science, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 215 Meat Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, United States.

Abstract

The growing popularity of food products marketed in the United States as "natural" and "organic" has resulted in a proliferation of marketing efforts to meet consumer demands for these foods. Because natural and organic foods are not permitted to use chemical preservatives, the traditional curing agents used for cured meats, nitrate and/or nitrite, cannot be added to natural and organic processed meat products. However, alternative processes that utilize ingredients with high nitrate content, such as vegetable-based ingredients, and a nitrate-reducing starter culture can produce processed meats with very typical cured meat properties. Because it is not possible to analytically measure the amount of nitrite produced by this process, several potential issues deserve consideration. Regulations, for example, should permit labeling that accurately reflects the process and products, manufacturing procedures must be standardized to achieve product consistency, marketing efforts should clearly communicate the nature of these products to consumers, product quality must be maintained, and microbiological safety must be assured.

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