Curing salt limits under review

by Editor
Friday, September 16, 2011

EU Commission questions use of nitrite additives in meat products
The use of nitrite curing salt to ensure safe meat products is an issue which has been smouldering for decades and has now reignited. The EU member states have been requested to state their position on the use of nitrites in the manufacture of meat products.

In the last few days the EU Commission has issued a questionnaire to the national supervisory bodies and monitoring laboratories. The aim is to draw up a proposal for standardising the maximum limits in the use of nitrite additives in certain meat products. The fear is that this will result in the current limits being watered down.

There have been increased efforts in the last few years to develop meat products which are made without the use of curing substances. These have come about due to the increased demand for organic meat products, the negative image of preservatives and the continuing toxicological worries concerning the additive.

Meat scientists, on the other hand, are strongly advising against any further restrictions on the use of nitrite curing salt, pointing to its antimicrobial effect on Clostridium botulinum and therefore its crucial contribution to food safety. The experts also claim that, in any case, nearly all nitrite is broken down in uncooked sausages.