Label Logic by Joann DiFabio-Klinkner is all about awareness of what is in the food you eat. How does this tie in to the Identity mission? Joann educates us in everyday language on ingredients so we can easily remember what is harmful to our bodies and what is healthy for our bodies. What we eat can, in the short term, affect our mood and our energy, and in the longer term, have a major affect on our health and nutrition. That’s why it’s an important part of helping you to have a healthy diet and to Feel Beautiful Everyday!™
By Joann Klinkner
Odds are you probably haven’t heart of Sodium Nitrite unless you’re a meat eater. This chemical is commonly found in processed meats such as salami, bologna, hot dogs, bacon, and SPAM. Its principle purpose is to preserve processed and cured meats and prevent the formation of bacteria such as botulism. However, its pinkish color allows it to double as a colorant for meats to make them appear more appealing…you’d buy red meat as opposed to grey, wouldn’t you?
So what exactly is sodium nitrite? Essentially, it’s sodium chemically combined with nitrogen and oxygen to form a white crystal powder closely resembling table salt. It is slow to oxidize, which makes it good for preserving cured meats…and preventing corrosion in certain metals and alloys. Yup, you read that right! Not only is sodium nitrite used in the food industry to preserve processed cured meats and colorize them to make them more visually appealing to consumers, it is also used in photography labs and in the manufacturing of rubber chemicals and dyes for fabrics.
Generally, the levels of sodium nitrite in processed meat and fish products are low and deemed safe to ingest by FDA regulations (.0001% in cured fish and .0005-percent in cured meats). However, the major health concern with sodium nitrite lies in the reaction is sustains when exposed to high heats and other reactive agents…such as stomach acid. Sodium nitrite in cured meats can form carcinogenic (cancer-causing) nitrosamines when exposed to high temperatures, and when combined with the naturally occurring acids in the stomach. Sodium nitrite has also been linked to triggering migraines in people who already suffer from them.
The slightly reassuring news here is that more recent FDA regulations have required manufacturers to include specific levels of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in products containing sodium nitrite. Ascorbic acid, an antioxidant, inhibits the formation of nitrosamines. For the past 20 years, the cured meat manufacturing industry has cut back on the use of sodium nitrite and nitrate in cured meat products, and had significantly supplemented in ascorbic acid to deplete any residual nitrite and inhibit the formation of dangerous carcinogens.
Even with these changes and improvements in the cured meat and fish industry, the bottom line is that it’s best to stay away from any products containing sodium nitrite (or nitrate). Anything that has been proven to produce carcinogens when ingested and cause cancer should be avoided altogether.