Report confirms link between nitrites in deli meats and cancer

The National Food Safety Agency (ANSES) recognizes “the existence of an association between the risk of colorectal cancer and exposure to nitrites and nitrates”. rainbow33 / Alamy via Reuters

The National Food Safety Agency would recommend continuing the already initiated reduction of nitrite salts in ham or sausage recipes.

The National Food Safety Agency (Anses) is due to publish a report on Tuesday on the use of nitrite salts in charcuterie. Its conclusions should spice up the debates between supporters of their maintenance, such as butchers, and those advocating its ban. According to Sunday newspaperthe agency acknowledges “the existence of an association between the risk of colorectal cancer and exposure to nitrites and nitrates”, thus joining the 2015 conclusions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). At the same time, continues the summary of the report, “the use of these additives in cold cuts and cured meats enables effective control of the growth of pathogenic bacteria” cause of foodborne infections.

Rather than the ban, which would cost manufacturers millions of euros, the report would recommend continuing the reduction already initiated of nitrite salts in ham or sausage recipes. While it may appear to be a victory for industrial pork butchers, it could also sound like a setback for them on one point. Still according to ANSES, certain alternative recipes developed by manufacturers to offer ranges “nitrite-free” not “do not constitute a real reduction in consumer exposure” to these additives. However, with double-digit growth rates, it is these ranges that have limited the erosion of this market in recent years.

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