His essay, "Nitrite free: Where does the truth end?"is the best thing I've seen so far on the fundamental problems of the current situation:
- Consumers can't tell there's nitrates in the product - because the "celery juice" and "cane juice" listed on the label don't scream "nitrates".
- Nitrites form in the product - but the consumer doesn't suspect that, as they don't appear on the label. Were nitrites added directly, they'd have to be listed on the label as preservatives, which would turn off consumers. So having nitrites form in the product pays off two ways.
- You can get nitrosamines forming in the no-nitrite, no-nitrate product, just as in stuff with nitrites directly added. Hence, there isn't necessarily a health benefit to the no-nitrite, no-nitrate product.
- Although the amount of nitrites that form in the no-nitrate, no-nitrite product are lower than in the ones where nitrite is added directly, when the consumer reads "no-nitrite", he figures there are no nitrites, not just fewer.
I'd be happier if my products said "naturally cured", "no nitrite, no nitrate", as I'd make more money. And if I knew that there were lots of "natural" nitrites in the product, safeguarding the health of my customers, I'd sleep easier. Yet it seems terribly dishonest to produce meat products labeled "no nitrite, no nitrate" when the whole point of the processing is to get nitrites in there without any clues on the label.
Yet, based on prices we observe in the market, and feedback from customers - e.g. getting attacked for not having a "no-nitrite" bacon), people very much want meats cured with nitrites - they just don't want any clues to it on the label.