Nitrite plays a major role in the curing of meats. However, the potential problem of nitrosamine formation has been responsible for reduction or elimination of nitrate and nitrite in curing. Reduced amounts of nitrite in curing can provide less protection against botulism, and subsequent investigations have examined solutions to this situation. Residual nitrite has been reduced by limiting the ingoing nitrite and by introducing curing substances, i.e., phosphates, lactobacillus cultures, and phenolic smoke compounds, to lower the pH. Ascorbates, alpha-tocopherol and other blocking agents have been used with nitrite in an attempt to devise a curing system that can provide a safe product with the color and flavor associated with nitrite-cured products while retarding nitrosopyrrolidine formation. This review focuses on the efficacy of various curing methods using nitrites that have the goal of reducing formation of nitrosamines.

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