Safety ruling on meat additives welcomed by BMPA

Levels of nitrate and nitrite in processed meat do not expose consumers to dangerous amounts of the additives, food safety experts have claimed in a ruling welcomed by the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA). 

The amount of food-preserving nitrates and nitrites in meat products means they are safe for consumption, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ruled last month. After having more than a fortnight to digest the findings from EFSA’s panel on food additives, the BMPA has welcomed the news.

“There has been a lot of poorly presented information about nitrates and nitrites in meat products in recent years and, hopefully, these conclusions from EFSA’s risk assessment will reassure everyone that they can enjoy their food knowing that current practices are sound and safe,” said Nick Allen, BMPA chief executive.

EFSA’s ruling from 15 June concluded existing levels of both nitrates and nitrites purposefully added to meat and other food products are “sufficiently protective for consumers”.

The current acceptable daily intake for nitrates is different for every person, but the guideline is this: no more than 3.7 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (or mg/kg bw/day). For reference, an average slice of bacon contains around 5.5mg of nitrate.

The level of nitrites considered safe is 0.07 mg/kg bw/day.

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