Everyone loves bacon, but could this once harmless meat candy be slowly killing you from the inside without any warning? In the 80’s everyone was worried about cholesterol issues associated with bacon due to the high amount of animal fat. Today however, it has been shown to have carcinogen effects. The real culprit here: nitrates and nitrites. Nitrates and nitrites are used as a preservative in many forms of cured meat, not just our beloved bacon, to prevent bacterial growth as well as keep the pinkish color in the meat. While cooking these cured meats, the chemicals can mix with the amines naturally found in meat to form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds.
Meat lovers do not have to worry, there is a light at the end of this dark depressing tunnel! Most grocery stores are now selling nitrate/nitrite free options of the meats that we love. I personally get all of my groceries from Aldi’s and have managed to find Never Any! bacon, that is nitrate and nitrite free. Although you do lose some of the heavy salty flavor that many associate with bacon, I have found that I enjoy the heavy pork flavor that would normally be masked by the salt. Also, the preserves are only seen as a threat to those who eat large amounts of these cured meat or eat them frequently. Like most things that could potentially be bad for you, if you use moderation and self-control (usually not associated with bacon) you should be safe.
Katie Friese, Senior Student in the Lipscomb University Didactic Program in Dietetics