The North American Meat Institute finds the petition submitted to the Food Safety and Inspection Service by CSPI and Consumer Reports on nitrites/nitrates in prepared meats ill-considered. Nitrates and nitrites provide a critical food safety function by helping to prevent botulism and other foodborne illnesses. The National Toxicology Program examined the concerns surrounding nitrates and nitrites and found them safe to consume as did the Food and Drug Administration.
Currently, consumers have access to information about ingredients in prepared foods. The law requires companies producing federally inspected meat and poultry products to disclose a list all of the added ingredients on the information panel of a product’s packaging.
Nitrates and nitrites are naturally found in many foods and the vast majority of dietary intake is not from processed meat items. Consumers should keep in mind the numerous well-documented, science-based benefits of nitrates and nitrites in human health including: foodborne illness prevention, improved cognitive function, immune response, wound repair and more.