ITALY, Parma. Existing safe levels for nitrites and nitrates intentionally added to meat and other foods are sufficiently protective for consumers, EFSA has concluded after re-evaluating their safety. Consumer exposure to nitrites and nitrates as food additives is within safe levels for all population groups, except for a slight exceedance in children whose diet is high in foods containing these additives. However, if all dietary sources of nitrites and nitrates are considered, the safe levels (ADIs) may be exceeded for all age groups.
The current acceptable daily intake (ADI) for nitrates is 3.7 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (mg/kg bw/day). The safe level for nitrites was re-established at 0.07 mg/kg bw/day, close to the slightly more conservative existing ADI of 0.06 mg/kg bw/day.
Prof Younes said: “After looking at all available evidence we concluded that nitrites and nitrates added to food at permitted levels are safe for consumers in Europe. However, there are still some knowledge gaps to be filled by future research.