Nitrosamines are dangerous chemical compounds formed from the interaction between secondary amines. They form under certain conditions, such as high acidity, high temperatures and more.
Nitrosamines are highly carcinogenic compounds. The highest quantities of these are found in foods which have been processed with sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite, also known as E250, is a potassium salt from nitrous acid.
This food additive is used massively as a color enhancer and regulator, as well as a preservative in the food industry. Sodium nitrite looks like a white or slightly yellow crystal powder with a hygroscopic structure. It is highly soluble in water.
Sodium nitrite is used to preserve meat and fish and most importantly to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum - the bacteria which causes botulism. The symptoms of poisoning with this bacteria can be expressed in nausea and vomiting, dry mouth and constipation, but in more severe cases those affected experience diarrhea, affected respiratory airways, paralysis.
Use of Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrite is widely used in the production of sausages and smoked meats to give them their characteristic pink-red color. It is also used to halt the spread of bacteria in foods. The EU approves the use of Е250 only as an additive to salt, but no more than 0.6%.
Sodium nitrite is found in bacon, sausages, dried sausages, smoked meats. It can even be found in so-called "fresh meat" which is actually not fresh at all. In this type of meat, sodium nitrite isn't mentioned on the label because it's used to improve the qualities of old meat, which in some stores they try to sell as fresh.
Besides in the food industry, sodium nitrite also finds application in numerous other fields - construction, the production of paper and cellulose, in the chemical and textile industries, in medicine, metallurgy and other sectors.
Dangers of Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrite is undoubtedly on the list of the most dangerous food additives used in the food industry. By itself, sodium nitrite and other nitrites aren't carcinogenic but when they bind with amines in protein-rich foods they form nitrosamines, dangerous agents that cause stomach, colon and lung cancer.
The dangerous effect of sodium nitrite is increased during heat treatment at high temperature - such as frying bacon or burning meat during roasting. The black burnt parts of the meat contain the most nitrosamines, so avoid eating them.
Numerous experts point to sodium nitrite as the culprit for pancreatic and colon cancer. Consuming meat processed with it greatly increases the risk of cancers, although it is not the meat itself that's the problem but rather the method of preparation.
Sodium nitrite is a harmful substance that has no place in human food. Nutritionist Mike Adams gives particular warning to expectant mothers to avoid consuming foods with sodium nitrite due to an increased risk of brain tumors in their infants.
Another negative aspect of sodium nitrite is its ability to destroy large quantities of the antioxidants found in foods - such as vitamin C and vitamin E, for example.
Taking larger amounts of vitamins cannot compensate for the negative impact of sodium nitrite. The only sure way to protect yourself from it is to avoid it altogether.
Besides carcinogenic effects, the consumption of sodium nitrite may lead to hyperactivity and a series of other dangerous reactions. It's no accident that sodium nitrite is banned from a number of countries, while its use in the European Union is strictly limited.
Despite all the restrictions and bans, sodium nitrite can be found in nearly all packaged products in stores. Its presence is usually indicated on the label.
To avoid the proven negative effects of sodium nitrite, meats and sausages processed with it must not find their way to your dinner table.
Try to buy fresh meat from verified stores, and despite being delicious, bacon, smoked fish and meat, salami and sausages need to be completely removed from your diet.