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Food-Info.net> Questions and Answers > Food Safety > Nitrates

Why is nitrite added to food?

itrite is added to certain foods to prevent the growth of the spore-forming bacterium Clostridium botulinum, whose toxin causes botulism, leading to paralysis and potentially, death. Botulinum toxins are the most toxic compounds known, 15,000 times more potent than nerve gas (100,000 times more potent than the nerve gas sarin). The word botulinum comes from the Latin word botulus, meaning sausage, which was responsible for many deaths centuries ago, before the advent of curing with nitrite. In addition to functioning as an antimicrobial agent, nitrite is used to produce the characteristic flavour, texture, and pink colour of cured meats.

 



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