Nitrates are present in almost all foods on our table, yet we worry for the ‘nitrate issue’. So it’s worth asking: Is our food safe?
Nitrates and Nitrites, and all of the nitrogen compounds, promote optimal crop growth and food preservation. For this reason, in agriculture, they are heavily used in the form of natural and chemical fertilizers.
In addition, they are also useful in the food sector: they preserve some characteristics favoring the preservation of some foods.
You can find them in:
1- Vegetables, the concentration of nitrates depends on the amount of light they absorb and fertilizers used. In addition, their content varies in different vegetables: spinach, lettuce and other leaf crops have a high content; fennel and turnip top are medium content; eggplant, onion and leek low.
2- Processed food, used for their preservation. Foods with the highest added nitrites and nitrates are cured meats.
The main reasons of food storage are:
- Antimicrobial and antiseptic action
- Preservation of the red color of the meat
The dangerousness of nitrates is linked to the process of transformation into nitrite, as can occur in the oral cavity since the bacteria present allow the transformation that continues in the digestive tract and can bind to molecules called amines, giving rise to carcinogenic organic compounds.
ARE WE EATING DANGEROUS FOOD?
The risk to the health of consumers has long pushed the European Community to limit the risk of nitrate contamination for crops in the most endangered areas, through the designation of NVZ (Nitrate Vulnerable Zones) and other risk management activities.
Thanks to these actions, declined by the individual Regions in the Action Plans (e.g. Apulia PAN ), the companies most exposed to the risk of contamination, can receive the tools and strategies to put in place the necessary measures to maintain high levels of safety of their products, reduce the risk of and allow you to bring to the table only products to high standards of quality!