I am just learning this right now. The nitrates are added to processed meats such as luncheon meats, bacon, ham, sausages, pepperoni, etc. to help preserve them and to give them the pink color. Most meat that has that pink color is probably bad for you.
The nitrates and nitrites themselves are not harmful. Many vegetables have them. However, when added to meats, especially red meats, the nitrates interact with chemicals in the meat to produce nitrosamines, which are not only bad for your heart but are also a strong carcinogen.
We’ve known this for a long time now. There was a big warning leveled against these meats in the mid-1970’s.
Back then the FDA was pro-consumer, unlike now when it is viciously anti-consumer, pro-business, and anti-public health. The FDA gave the meat industry three months to prove that nitrates in meat were harmless. They couldn’t do it. Instead they made up a lie that nitrates were required to keep botulism out of food.
But meats cured without nitrates have been used for decades and there hasn’t been one case of botulism. Most botulism comes from canned foods, often canned vegetables. The can is often very old and many times the botulism causes a bulge in the can. Never eat out of any can that has developed an odd bulge in it.
In 1980, Republicans came in and a consumer and public health-hostile and pro-business FDA came in and the nitrate controversy went away. It awakened again a few years ago when British papers published studies showing that processed meats with nitrates caused thousands of cases of cancer per year in the UK. This was called the bacon scare.
The industry has been lying shamelessly about these carcinogens in our foods for almost fifty years now. Their line came right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook.
There are many websites on the Net with articles about the fake nitrate scare and even how nitrates are good for you. I just realized that I bought a package of turkey hot dogs and one of ground turkey meat that both had sodium nitrite in it.
There’s really no safe amount of this stuff you can eat. Even eating one nitrate hot dog a day significantly increases your risk of dying of cancer, typically colon cancer. If you know what’s good for you, you will quit eating this junk right now.
There are not a lot of nitrate-free processed meats out there, but there are some. There are completely safe traditional ways to cure meats that work just as well as nitrates. But the curing process can take up to 18 months. Meat companies want their meats to cure rapidly. Waiting around for them to cure cuts into profits.
So we see once again how the maximize profits directive of capitalism once again puts money and profits over human lives. Capitalism literally murders or kills humans just so other humans can make a buck. I hope you fanboys are proud of that fancy free market of yours.