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E249: Potassium nitrite

Origin:
Naturally occurring mineral. Can be mined or produced chemically from potassium nitrate.

Function & characteristics:
White powder used as a preservative against Clostridium botulinum (a bacterium that can cause botulism) in meat products.

Products:
Meat and fish products.

Acceptable Daily Intake:
Up to 0.06 mg/kg body weight.

Side effects:
Nitrites are precursors of (possibly carcinogenic) nitrosamines, which are formed in the stomach from nitrites and proteins. High concentrations may react with haemoglobin. It is not allowed in products intended for children under 1 year. Little children have a different type of haemoglobin, which is much more reactive towards nitrites than normal haemoglobin.

Dietary restrictions:
None nitrites and nitrates can be consumed by all religious groups, vegans and vegetarians.

 


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