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J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Apr 18;60(15):3981-90. doi: 10.1021/jf204611k. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Survey of residual nitrite and nitrate in conventional and organic/natural/uncured/indirectly cured meats available at retail in the United States.

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Department of Food Technology, Universidad de Oriente, Núcleo Nueva Esparta, Escuela de Ciencias Aplicadas del Mar, Isla de Margarita, Venezuela.


A survey of residual nitrite (NO(2)(-)) and nitrate (NO(3)(-)) in cured meats available at retail was conducted to verify concentrations in conventional (C) products and establish a baseline for organic/natural/uncured/indirectly cured (ONC) products. In this study, 470 cured meat products representing six major categories were taken from retail outlets in five major metropolitan cities across the United States. Random samples representing both C and ONC type products were analyzed for NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) content (ppm) using an ENO-20 high-performance liquid chromatography system equipped with a reverse phase column. Generally, there were no differences in NO(2)(-) concentrations between C and ONC meat categories, but a few ONC products surveyed in certain cities were lower in NO(3)(-) content. Pairwise comparisons between cities indicated that NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) contents of all C type products were not appreciably different, and the same was true for most ONC products. Numerical NO(2)(-) values were less variable than NO(3)(-) concentrations within each meat product category. NO(2)(-) concentrations were similar to those previously reported by Cassens ( Cassens , R. G. Residual nitrite in cured meat . Food Technol. 1997a , 51 , 53 - 55 ) in 1997. Residual NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) values in this study were numerically lower than those reported by NAS ( National Academy of Sciences . The Health Effects of Nitrate, Nitrite, and N-Nitroso Compounds ; National Academy Press : Washington, DC , 1981 ) in 1981. Data from this survey provide a benchmark of NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) concentrations for ONC products available at retail.

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