In my first book, Poisons In Your Food published by Crown in 1969, I wrote:
Potassium Nitrite is used as a color fixative in the multibillion dollar a year cured meat business: Sodium nitrite has the peculiar ability to react chemically with the myoglobin molecule to impart a blood-redness to processed meat, to convey tanginess on the palate, and to resist the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause the deadly food poisoning, botulism. The nitrites are used in cured meat s, bacon, bologna and frankfurters, deviled ham, meat spread, potted meats, spiced ham, Vienna sausages, smoked cured tuna fish products, and in smoked-cured shad and salmon.The problem is that nitrites combine with natural stomach and food chemicals (secondary amines) to create nitrosamines, among the most powerful cancer causing agents known.”
That was 46 years ago.
I reported that the Food and Drug Administration and US Department of Agriculture asked manufacturers at that time to show nitrites were safe. Processors claimed there was no other chemical substitute for nitrites.
In 1977, Germany banned nitrites and nitrates except in certain species of fish.
In August 1978, I wrote: A new concern about nitrites was raised. The USDA and FDA issued a joint announcement that the substance has been directly linked to cancer by researchers at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and the Michael Reese Medical Center in Chicago Illinois.
That was 37 years ago.
I have noted nitrites and other cancer-causing agents in our food in all seven editions of A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, the last published by Crown in 2009.
In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program issued its 12th Edition of Reports on Carcinogens. Nitrosamines were listed 15 times and the Report noted” nitrosamines are formed when nitrites or nitrates are added to meat during production as preservatives. The concentration of nitrosamines tends to increase over time and their formation is enhanced by high temperatures, such as occurs while frying food and high acidity, such as in stomach acid”
So the current news just released by The World Health Organization warning about processed meats and cancer is really an old story and an example of how the “wheel is reinvented” and nothing happens.