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Nitrate and nitrite content of meat products
  1. SUZAN YALÇIN
  1. Department of Food Hygiene and Technology
  2. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
  3. Selçuk University
  4. Konya, Turkey
  5. Department of Social Pediatrics
  6. Institute of Child Health, Hacettepe University
  7. Ankara, Turkey
    1. S SONGÜL YALÇIN
    1. Department of Food Hygiene and Technology
    2. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
    3. Selçuk University
    4. Konya, Turkey
    5. Department of Social Pediatrics
    6. Institute of Child Health, Hacettepe University
    7. Ankara, Turkey

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      Editor,—Having read the case report by Kennedy and colleagues,1 we would like to point out some aspects of the production of dry fermented sausage, salami, and sausage. We agree with Kennedy et al that food manufacturers should order ingredients specifically, in writing, and preferably by their approved chemical name.

      Nitrate and nitrite are widely used as additives in meat products for effects such as reddening, as preservatives, and as antioxidants. Prolonged ingestion of nitrates and nitrites may cause methaemoglobinaemia and favour the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.2 3 The use of nitrates and nitrites as meat curing agents is restricted in Turkey by theRegulations of food additives,4but it does not prevent the use of overdose by food processors as the residual quantities in the end products are not limited.

      To investigate nitrate and nitrite contents in meat products for human consumption we collected 65 dry fermented sausages, 83 salamis, and 60 sausage samples from markets in Istanbul and analysed them with spectrophotometric methods.5 The average nitrate concentrations were 87.0 mg/kg (range 0–362.9) in dry fermented sausage, 102.4  mg/kg (0–390) in salami, and 147.4  mg/kg (0–370.9) in sausage. The average nitrite concentrations were 42.8  mg/kg (0376.9) in dry fermented sausage, 87.6  mg/kg (0–375) in salami, and 102.8  mg/kg (0–420) in sausage. The nitrate contents in 3.6% of salamis and 11.7% of sausages were above 300 mg/kg. The nitrite contents in 3.0% of dry fermented sausages, 15.6% of salamis, and 20% of sausages were above 150 mg/kg. Therefore, nitrates and nitrites used during the production of meat products were higher than the concentrations indicated by the Regulations of food additives and this might be detrimental to human health. Therefore, the concentrations of nitrate and nitrite in the end product should be limited and controlled.

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