E251 Sodium nitrate

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E251

Sodium nitrate

 

 

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Sodium nitrate is a salt used extensively as a preservative and colour fixative of processed meats such as sausage and bacon. It is coded as E251 by European Union.

Nitrates by themselves are non-toxic but when added to meat break down into nitrite. The nitrite then reacts with protein to produce N-nitroso compounds which is carcinogenic in test animals, evidence is inconclusive regarding their potential to cause cancer (such as stomach cancer) in humans.

Health effects of nitrate include a bluish tinge on skin and lips, weakness, rapid pulse, lack of consciousness, coma, and death. Infants are much more sensitive to nitrates than adults. Long-term exposure to lower levels of nitrates results in an increase in the amount of urine, and starchy deposits and bleeding of the spleen. Nitrate should not be used for infants below 3 months.

Nitrates are also used as fertilisers, and leach into watercourses, then subsequently into our drinking water.

Not recommended for consumption by children.


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