It’s a hot topic of discussion when buying hot dogs or sausages from the store because of the nitrates that are used in them as preservatives. What are nitrates and is it safe to consume foods with nitrates?
Yes, most fresh sausages are made with sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate is a natural preservative.
Some sausages are cured with nitrite. However, the addition of nitrate or nitrite increases the shelf life of the product, which is why it is always a good idea to read the label.
Importantly do fresh sausages have nitrates even though they are cooked at home?
What Are Nitrates and Why Are They Used in Meat?
Nitrates are organic compounds containing nitrogen that occur naturally as a result of certain biochemical processes.
They are found in vegetables, grains, and meats.
The nitrate ions that occur in processed foods come from either natural sources (e.g. celery, spinach, and almonds) or are added during processing.
Nitrates are converted into nitrites during the manufacturing process, so there is no actual nitrate in a lot of processed foods.
However, because many people worry about nitrates, most manufacturers add them to processed foodstuffs as a form of safety net.
They are salts that are used in the food industry to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and to prevent the meat from being spoiled too quickly.
Ham or bacon, deli cuts, hot dogs, and sausages are some of the processed meat that has nitrates added to it.
All of these are pink in color, which is caused by nitrates added to them. The salty flavor in these types of meat can be attributed to nitrates.
Does Fresh Sausage Contain Nitrates?
Sausages made with fresh meat and natural salt do not contain nitrates because they are not curing salt.
Preservatives like nitrates are added to processed meats in the food industry to prolong the shelf life.
From a business perspective, it makes sense to make mass-produced products and save money.
If you want to eat fresh sausages, you don’t need to keep them Preservatives don’t need to be used.
If you want to make large batches of sausages for later use, you can simply freeze them. An excellent, safer alternative is this one.
Cold smoked cured sausages are more common than you might think. They can be cold smoked because they have the cure in them to protect them from bacteria.
Even though sausage isn’t cured, you can still smoke it.
Are Nitrates Bad For Your Health?
Some vegetables have a high nitrate content, for example, carrots and beets. nitrates from the soil are acquired by them.
For example, beets have been shown to lower blood pressure and improve physical performance, and we all know that vegetables are good for you.
Nitrates are the active ingredient in commonly used medications for angina, which is a heart condition where blood flow to the heart is severely restricted.
The nitrates help to open up the blood vessels and improve the flow of blood to the heart. When it comes to processed meat, it has been shown that eating large amounts of processed meat can be linked to cancer.
It is not the nitrates in processed meat that cause cancer, it is a compound called nitrosamines.
Nitrosamines can form when nitrates are in an acid environment like the stomach and have a source of proteins in processed meats.
When nitrates are cooked at high heat, they can form nitrates as well. When you cook bacon, it’s like this.
Several other reasons lead to the cancer-causing effect of processed meats as well.
The nitrates are not the only thing. Even though nitrates themselves are not bad for you, it is the way you consume them that can lead to negative effects.
How Can You Say if Meat Is Nitrate Free?
Easy ways to check whether your meat is nitrate-free or not:
- The nutrition label has some information. If it says nitrates, that means the product is made with nitrates.
- If the food is labeled as organic, that doesn’t mean it has nitrates in it. Preservatives such as synthetic nitrates or nitrites are not allowed in organic food.
- If the label says “nitrate-free”, “no nitrates” or “no nitrates added”, it is nitrate-free.
Synthetic nitrates and nitrites and not naturally occurring nitrates and nitrites are referred to by the tips above.
The product could still be preserved with natural nitrates/nitrites even if synthetic nitrates/nitrites were used.
Natural nitrates found in celery can be used to preserve meat that is labeled as “uncured”.
It is not known if uncured meat containing natural nitrites from celery is any less harmful than cured meat containing synthetic nitrates.
Are Nitrates and Nitrites in Foods Harmful?
Nitrates and Nitrites are naturally found in some foods. For example, carrots contain these substances.
However, when nitrates and nitrites combine with the bacteria in our stomachs they turn into carcinogenic compounds that can cause cancer.
Processed and prepared food items such as cured meats and loaves of bread and portions of pasta often contain additives that contain nitrates and nitrites.
What Nitrates Are Used in Italian Sausage?
Nitrates are often found in processed foods, particularly salted and smoked meats. In this type of food, nitrites are converted to nitrates.
This conversion is commonly known as curing or “nitro forming” and is used in cured meats, hot dogs, and jerky.
I hope this article helped you to learn what nitrates are and why these nitrates are used in meat.
I encourage everyone to make their sausages because if you love them, you can still eat them without worrying about the health risks associated with store-bought, processed sausages!