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Sausage Basics - NITRITE

Posted By: Joe Ames
Date: Friday, April 13, 2001 at 4:01 p.m.

NITRITE is the chemical compound responsible for fixing the typical pinkish “cured meat color.” Nitrite is very closely regulated by the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Federal regulations stipulate that nitrite may be used at levels not to exceed one-fourth ounce per 100 pounds of chopped meat (156 parts per million).
Small quantities such as this are difficult to weigh accurately on the scales of many meat processing plants. For this reason, nitrite is usually sold in a diluted form which reduces the chances of human error in weighing. The “Curing Salt” cures marketed under trade names suych as, “Tender Quick:’ available with 6.25 percent nitrite and used at levels of four ounces per 100 pounds of meat.
There are four basic functions of nitrite in cured meat products. These functions include: 1) imparting the cured meat color; 2) imparting the characteristic cured flavor; 3) antimicrobial properties; and 4) antioxidant properties (help prevent rancidity or oxidation of the fat).

From an article by W.J. Costello in "Meat Industry" magazine.

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