Nitrates and Bacon

The vast majority of bacons up and down the land has additional preservatives beyond salt added when they are manufactured. If you were to look on the back of any supermarket bacon, you will see an ingredient called Sodium Nitrite / Sodium Nitrate. This ingredient is added to bacon, primarily as a belt and braces approach to ensure that your bacon is free from the deadly botulism spore. Google it if you want to find out more about Botulism but suffice to say it is one of the most toxic poisons knows to mankind. For all the big processors, up and down the land this is a requirement from local Environmental Health officials to ensure that the bacon you consume is safe to eat.

Now you may remember the big furore around nitrates and processed meats back in December 2015. To explain the cause of the furore you need to understand that when the nitrates are cooked (on a grill or fried) they combine with the proteins of the meat (the pork) to produce toxic nitrosamines, and some of these have been found to be carcinogenic. Now remember nitrates occur naturally in vegetables and also meat, and in some cases processors get around this by using celery as a natural alternative, however the potential downside is much the same. You may ask why is there not the same outrage with vegetables, the reason for this is that vegetables have Vitamin C in which inhibits the production of nitrosamines.

However the risk that WHO classified of contracting cancer from bacon is limited, the relative risk of contracting lung cancer from smoking is 2500 percent, where the relative risk of contracting colorectal cancer from eating two slices a day is just 18 percent. “Given the frequency of colorectal cancer, that means your risk of getting colorectal cancer over your life goes from about 5 percent to 6 percent” according to Wired Magazine. “If this is the level of risk you’re running your life on, then you don’t really have much to worry about,” says Alfred Neugut, an oncologist and cancer epidemiologist at Columbia.

So for now if you are going to eat bacon every day of the week, then make sure you have a decent lump of fruit with your bacon. Or if the risk is too much for you but you don’t want to give up on your bacon then please feel free to get in touch with as we do offer up a bespoke Nitrate Free Bacon service for those who are after a more natural product.


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