Natural Flavorings to Replace Nitrate in Processed Meat

Hot dogs, bacon, deli meat, and sausages contain nitrates – organic preservatives that keep food fresher for longer. Although nitrates are natural, they can have negative health effects, and many consumers are looking for safer alternatives to boost their food’s shelf-life. Swiss flavor company Givaudan recently launched NaNino+, a plant-based nitrite replacement that could revolutionize the processed meat industry.
Nitrates vs Nitrites and How They Affect the Body
Nitrates (NO3) are naturally-occurring compounds found in the human body, water, and some vegetables. These stable compounds are harmless until bacteria and enzymes convert them into nitrites (NO2) which can be healthy or harmful. Nitrites react with other molecules in your body to form one of two substances:

  1. N-Nitroso compounds (NOCs)
  2. Nitric oxide

NOCs are carcinogenic, and numerous studies suggest NOC exposure increases your risk of developing cancer. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that relaxes the blood vessels to help lower high blood pressure, and many heart medications promote its formation.
The Role of Nitrates in Food Preservation
Adding nitrates and nitrites to processed meat helps prevent the growth of bacteria, extending its shelf-life while enhancing its rosy color and smokey flavor. Manufacturers typically add these compounds to meat products in the form of sodium nitrate/nitrite or potassium nitrate/nitrite. Cooking nitrite-containing food at high temperatures encourages the formation of cancer-causing NOCs.
7 Natural Ingredients That Reduce Harmful Nitrite Formation
Many vegetables and fruits are natural sources of nitrites and contain substances that inhibit the formation of harmful NOCs during digestion. Givaudan’s NaNino+ is one of many potential sodium nitrite alternatives for processed meats that contains natural ingredients such as:

  1. Celery
    Celery powder contains up to 2,500 mg of nitrite per kilogram and is highly compatible with meat products due to its mild flavor and color.
  2. Swiss chard
    Spray-dried Swiss chard powder contains 3 – 3.5% nitrites and does not contain allergens, making it a healthy, plant-based sodium nitrate alternative.
  3. Spinach
    Spinach juice has a nitrate concentration of over 3200 ppm and may be a viable sodium nitrate alternative. A 2013 study found that fermented spinach-treated pork contained lower residual nitrite levels than traditionally cured meat.
  4. Tomato
    Tomatoes contain carotenoids that act as powerful antioxidants in the body. Tomato paste was found to enhance the color of processed meat while reducing its residual nitrite concentration.
  5. Cranberry
    Cranberry contains citric acid, quinic acid, malic acid, anthocyanins, and flavonols that have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that can help preserve processed meat. Cranberry extract helps accelerate nitric oxide production in cured meat – lowering residual nitrite levels.
  6. Rosemary
    Rosemary contains rosemarin acid, rosmadial, and rosemanol that have antibotulinal properties and reduces the occurrence of amenes in meat – amino acids that bind with nitrites to form NOCs.
  7. Citrus
    Lemon and orange extract contain polyphenols and ascorbic acid that has been shown to reduce the formation of residual nitrites in processed meat and NOCS during digestion.

Nitrates are natural substances that can benefit or harm your health depending on how they are prepared and digested. Many fruits and vegetables contain bioactive compounds that can reduce residual nitrite levels in processed meats and inhibit the formation of NOCs during digestion. Advanced Biotech is committed to making biotechnology more accessible to the food and beverage industry. Please contact us for more information.