Three Surprising Facts About Nitrates -- And Why T.O.P. Chops Doesn’t Use Them

You may have seen the term "nitrite-free" on food packages, but what does it mean?

Nitrates are naturally occurring chemicals that can be found in plants, soil, water, and even our own bodies. They are often added to processed meat as a preservative that prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, improves how meat looks by giving it a pink or red color, and improves meat’s flavor. Nitrites by themselves are not hazardous, but when added to meat, they can become trouble. Here are some surprising facts about this interesting chemical.

1. Sodium nitrate is often added to cured meats such as sausage, hotdogs, bacon, etc.
Sodium nitrate is a type of salt, also called "curing salt," that is used to preserve meats by drawing moisture out of the food. Along with the health issues tied to consuming too much salt, limiting these foods is a good idea because of the amount of nitrites found in them.

1. Nitrates can turn into nitrosamines, a breeding ground for cancer cells. 

Because sodium nitrate is such an effective preservative, it can be found in the large majority of cured meats. When these meats are cooked at a high heat, the nitrates present have the perfect condition to become nitrosamines, a potentially carcinogenic compound.

2. Nitrates are most commonly found in vegetables.

Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical that is necessary to sustain many plants. Vegetables such as lettuce, beets, and celery are all high in nitrates. However, the nitrates in vegetables are not at risk of forming nitrosamines because of the natural vitamin C found in plants.

T.O.P. Chops jerky doesn't use nitrates because we want to offer a better beef jerky than what's already on the market. Try a bag of our tender, gourmet jerky today - if you're not completely satisfied, we'll give you your money back.


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