The Nitrite-Free Bacon Myth

October 16, 2014 12:12 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

the-nitrite-free-bacon-myth
There seems to be a common misconception among bacon eaters regarding nitrite-free bacon. A study linking certain types of cancer to nitrate and nitrite consumption has caused many bacon consumers to reject bacon that is cured with nitrites. By purchasing supposedly “nitrite-free” bacon, consumers are often erroneously assuming that their bacon has no nitrites in it.

But you only need to read the fine print on labels advertising themselves as “nitrite-free.” Look for the asterisk and the small text, which will usually say something like “No added nitrites” or “No nitrites except for those naturally-occurring nitrites found in celery powder.”

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Umm. Say what?

Nitrates are found in many vegetables, and celery powder has one of the highest levels of nitrates of any vegetable. “Nitrite-free” bacons can use celery powder and then say that they didn’t add nitrites; what they added was technically celery powder. However, the idea that this makes the end product nitrite-free is simply not true. Nitrite-free bacon still has nitrites in it. In fact, a study conducted by Cook’s Illustrated magazine tested different types of bacon for nitrite levels. The results showed that the nitrite-free bacons actually contained more nitrites than the bacons cured with nitrite salts in the traditional method.

In a nutshell, if you want to avoid nitrites altogether, you’ll have to give up bacon entirely. And, we’re pretty sure that’s not an option for you bacon addicts out there. You’d have to eliminate all cured meats, not just bacon. And you’d definitely need to eliminate celery! That evil, evil vegetable…

So which bacon should you eat? What it comes down to is personal taste and preference: eat the bacon that tastes the best. Some people prefer the taste of nitrite-free bacon, and some crave bacon that is cured using traditional methods and won’t have it any other way. Just don’t let the nitrite-free myth keep you from the bacon that you love.


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This post was written by Mr. B.

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