Health for humans, animals & plants

Additives (phosphates and nitrite/nitrate) in traditionally produced cured products

Final report of the priority action A-016-18

The objective of the focus action was to verify the specific maximum levels for nitrite or nitrate and for added phosphates applicable to cured meat products such as farmhouse bacon, home smoked meat or smoked loin. 52 samples from all over Austria were tested. Two samples were rejected:

  • In both samples, the maximum levels for nitrite/nitrate were exceeded.

As a component of curing salt, nitrite is contained in cured meat products such as ham, bacon and smoked meat. The nitrite curing salt causes the meat to turn red and inhibits the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can form the highly toxic botulinum toxin. The use of nitrite or nitrate in meat products is restricted by law due to the possible formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. Thus, specific residual limits for nitrite or nitrate also apply to cured meat products produced by traditional methods.

Since phosphate binds water, it is used in meat products to help meat parts hold together better. Maximum levels are also prescribed for phosphates.

Last updated: 18.07.2022

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