Notochemo's Blog

Just another weblog

What Is In Your Ham and Cheese Sandwich?

I’ve had people tell me – the amount is so small that over a lifetime, it shouldn’t affect a person’s health, or “I’ve been eating this stuff forever, I’m fine” – if I were them, I might feel the same.

But hubby’s anticancer journey has given me new choices.


“What is sodium nitrate? It seems like lots of meats contain it. Is it in any way harmful?

Sodium nitrate (NaNO3) and its close relative sodium nitrite (NaNO2) arepreservatives that you find in lots of processed meats. Stuff like salami, hot dogs, pepperoni, bologna, ham, bacon and SPAM all normally contain sodium nitrate as one of the ingredients. Fresh meats generally do not contain any added chemicals, so the question is, “Why is sodium nitrate added to all of these processed meats?”

There are two reasons for adding these chemicals to processed meats:

  • They preserve the color of the meat (meaning that it looks pink like SPAM rather than gray like cooked hamburger). You have probably noticed that nearly all meats that contain sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite remain pink or red even though they are cooked during processing.
  • These chemicals inhibit botulism to some degree.

The jury is out on how harmful these substances are. Sodium nitrite reacts with stomach acid and other chemicals in the stomach to produce nitrosamines, which have been shown to cause cancer in animals when consumed in large quantities. However, there’s not much sodium nitrate/nitrite in meats, and we consume sodium nitrate/nitrite from other foods as well, so it is not clear that they are harmful in the quantities we get from meats. Some people recommend that small children and pregnant women avoid these chemicals altogether just to be safe. Since neither canned chicken nor tuna have any redness to protect, they generally do not contain nitrate.”


NOTOCHEMO’S CONCLUSION: Toxic is toxic in any amount.  Depending on each person, small or large quantity of sodium nitrate is relative, but\ I wouldn’t risk eating foods with sodium nitrate, how would I know what my level of immunity is at any given time?  I enjoy the occasional hotdog and I would choose one that is free of sodium nitrate.  Too bad it took hubby to fight cancer for me to be more aware of healthy choices.


August 28, 2009 - Posted by | Toxic Toxic Toxic

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: