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Health : Nitrite-free deli meats

Health : Nitrite-free deli meats

When it's time to prepare your kids' lunches, deli meats are undeniably an easy, practical and very popular choice. With the arrival of nitrite-free deli meats, this lunchbox favourite becomes an even smarter choice for parents.

What are nitrites?

Basically, nitrites and nitrates are natural molecules found in the earth, air and water. For this reason, we shouldn't be surprised to learn that 85% of the nitrates we consume come from fruits and vegetables, which grow in the earth.

So, what's the problem? When nitrites arrive in the stomach and mix with proteins, they're transformed into nitrosamine, which has the potential to become carcinogenic. Fortunately, if you consume vitamin C at the same time as nitrites, this transformation does not occur. Since fruits and vegetables naturally contain vitamin C, their dose of nitrites and nitrates has no negative on your health. To counteract the effects of nitrites, all producers of deli meats, large and small operations alike, add sodium erythorbate or sodium ascorbate, two food additives that act similar to vitamin C.

Why are nitrites used in meat processing?

Nitrites are potent preservatives that lengthen the shelf life and maintain the appealing rosy colour of deli meats, especially ham. You might be surprised to learn that they've been used since at least the Middle Ages, a time when butchers began rubbing sea salt on meats to keep them longer. In the 19th century, the food industry made another leap forward when researchers created synthesized nitrites that had the same effect as the natural nitrites used in the past.

Nitrite-free deli meats

In 2007, World Cancer Research Fund International recommended that consumers limit their intake of cold cuts due to the nitrites they contain. Attentive to these concerns, companies such as Flamingo developed nitrite-free meats. In 2011, going one step further, Flamingo launched a line of 12 poultrydeli meats (turkey and chicken) that contain no nitrites, no gluten and no trans fats, and are also sodium-reduced. Discover them today and enjoy them worry-free.