Dry cure bacon help

Air dried cured meat and salami recipes

Postby dougal » Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:46 pm

I realise that the response I had prepared dealing with each of the issues that have been raised was overlong and consequently would obscure, rather than clarify, the issues.
Accordingly, I'd like to focus on the individual issues in isolation, and in sequence as far as possible.

This whole debate sprang from my concern that Oddley was advising a confused beginner that Ascorbate was an "essential" part of a saltpetre (nitrAte) bacon drycure, specifically in order to minimise the risks from nitrosamines.

Oddley wrote:I have to say, that I think sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid is an essential, if you are cooking at high temps e.g. frying. This antioxidant, will reduce the amount of nitrite in the bacon and therefore the risk of producing nitrosamines.

Oddley wrote:

    Dry cure for bacon

    1 kg meat not fat
    2.55 g cure #1 (150 ppm)
    0.3 g saltpetre (300 ppm)
    0.55 g sodium ascorbate

    18 g sea salt
    10 gm sugar


Oddley, I have no objection to the use of nitrAte. Or Ascorbate.
There are many reasons these items might be used. Or even not used. That's not the problem.

I do have a problem specifically with the suggestion that Ascorbate in nitrAte cures would make such a difference to nitrosamine levels as to be "essential". And that concern applies whether the cure be wet or dry.

I'd like to focus solely on that single issue, before dealing with any of the multiple other issues raised.

To quote from the reference Oddley cited previously
Effective June 15, 1978, the USDA changed the curing procedures of "pumped" bacon as follows: the use of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate is prohibited; the level of ingoing sodium nitrite shall be 120 ppm (or 148 ppm potassium nitrite); the level of ingoing sodium ascorbate (vitamin C) or sodium erythorbate (isoascorbate) shall be 550 ppm. According to USDA surveys, these changes have resulted in bacon that does not form nitrosamines when cooked at 340 degrees F for 3 minutes on each side. These three changes apply only to pumped bacon and do not apply to dry cured bacon.
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distributi ... J0974.html
Lets accept that as being the American position.
Don't use ANY nitrAte, pump with a maximum of 120ppm nitrIte and 550ppm ascorbate, and thus we avoid nitrosamines.

In contrast, Oddley says it is "essential" to add Ascorbate to a nitrAte *dry*cure, to avoid nitrosamines.
Oddley wrote:This antioxidant, will reduce the amount of nitrite in the bacon and therefore the risk of producing nitrosamines.
And this is while advising 150 (not 120) ppm of nitrIte, so 1/4 excess of that, in addition to 300 ppm of nitrAte.

So please -what reference, what analysis, what authority supports that assertion for this situation?

As Oddley himself wrote:The important thing is not just to take others words for things, but to question them ourselves. Have you got a direct link to the info... After all {he} has no formal qualifications in this field that I know of, so why should we take his word.

If its nothing more than a personal opinion, unsupported by, and particularly when contrary to, such science as exists, then it would only be fair, at least to to the confused newbie, to clearly flag it up as such.


EDIT: From the Meat Inspectors Calculation Handbook p 27/28
Because of problems associated with nitrosamine formation in bacon, MPI Regulations, section
318.7(b)(1) and (3) prescribe the amounts of nitrite and sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate
(isoascorbate) to be used in pumped and massaged bacon. For the immersion curing and dry
curing of bacon, maximum amounts of sodium and potassium nitrite are prescribed in section
318.7(b)(5) and (6) of the MPI Regulations.

Establishment management must submit pickle formulas and the method(s) of preparing pumped
and/or massaged bacon to the processing staff officer at the appropriate regional office. The
pickle formula and targeted percent pump or pick-up must meet the limits listed below. Once the
procedure is approved, production may begin.
Regardless of the curing method used, restricted ingredient calculations for bacon are based on
the green weight of the skinless belly. For rind-on bacon, e.g., where the skin is sold as part of
the finished product, a restricted ingredient conversion calculation is necessary. Nitrate is no
longer permitted in any curing method for bacon.

The bolding in the quote is from the FSIS/FDA.
{and this adds further weight to my contention that the umn.edu page is not wholly authoritative, particularly concerning US regulation}
Last edited by dougal on Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Oddley » Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:14 am

Firstly it's good to see you back. Even though you have chosen not to answer any of my questions I'll try to answer yours
My questions wrote:The use of saltpetre is not banned in the UK, nor is, as far as I know, ascorbic acid. The important thing is not just to take others words for things, but to question them ourselves. Have you got a direct link to the info Parson snows posted so we can see ourselves? Do you know why the USA banned the use of ascorbic acid as a reducer of nitrite, if indeed it did? After all PS has no formal qualifications in this field that I know of, so why should we take his word.


The following, is the text I took issue with:
dougal wrote: Vitamin C itself (Ascorbic acid, E300) is not advised for curing.

saltpetre is permitted for bacon (though very little used commercially),

PS - Ascorbate isn't needed either. Not saying its not a good idea, though more with nitrIte (Prague No 1) than with saltpetre. Just that its not *needed* to get started.


Lets take the first part first. You quote an FDA .pdf file that didn't mention ascorbic acid. I don't take any document that doesn't mention something as proof that it is banned. You then quoted some text that Parson Snows had posted on the river cottage forum, saying that ascorbic acid was not to be used. You have decided not to support these unfounded claims.

To refute these claims please open the FDA PROCESSING INSPECTORS' CALCULATIONS HANDBOOK page 35, where you will see a chapter on CURE ACCELERATOR CALCULATIONS. As you can see from the image below the FDA have set maximum amount for ascorbic acid to be used in bacon curing. It goes on to show the calculations necessary for the maximum amount of ascorbic acid allowed in bacon. If the FDA are setting maximum amounts then to me it is obvious the ascorbic acid is not banned for use in bacon curing.

    Image
The second part where Nitrate is very little used commercially. I have shown that Wall's one of the biggest commercial bacon producers in the country uses Potassium Nitrate. Also commercial cures like supracure use potassium nitrate. I think this indicates that Potassium Nitrate is widely used.

Third part of the question, If the big companies like walls are using ascorbate, as well as other commercial companies I think this proves something, as I have already explained.

dougal wrote:Lets accept that as being the American position.
Don't use ANY nitrAte, pump with a maximum of 120ppm nitrIte and 550ppm ascorbate, and thus we avoid nitrosamines.
In contrast, Oddley says it is "essential" to add Ascorbate to a nitrAte *dry*cure, to avoid nitrosamines.

Oddley wrote:
This antioxidant, will reduce the amount of nitrite in the bacon and therefore the risk of producing nitrosamines.

dougal wrote:And this is while advising 150 (not 120) ppm of nitrIte, so 1/4 excess of that, in addition to 300 ppm of nitrAte.
So please -what reference, what analysis, what authority supports that assertion for this situation?


You seem to be changing the goalposts at every post but, first of all I don't know where you got you recommended amounts of nitrite from. 120 ppm is the optimum amount to keep to, not the maximum amount. The FDA specify's, 200 ppm as the max amount for bacon, the FSA 150 ppm as the max. The FDA max amounts are in the FDA PROCESSING INSPECTORS' CALCULATIONS HANDBOOK. The FSA rules at the link below.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1995/Uksi_19953187_en_4.htm

Second and third part of the quote including my quote, As I have already said 120ppm of nitrite is the optimum amount this would be very rapidly reduced to a useless level as nitrite is so reactive, That is the reason for the potassium nitrate. we have to strike a balance between bacterial safety of the meat, and production of nitrosamines. Hence the 150 ppm nitrite and 300 ppm nitrate + ascorbate. The nitrite will be quickly used, the nitrate will supply new nitrite, and over the course of time the ascorbate will reduce that to a low level.

Part three my reference, is the FDA rules the FSA rules and some understanding of the subject.

Finally ascorrbic acid is stronger that sodium ascorbate. If you have a recipe which uses sodium ascorbate you will have to reduce it by 12%. For example if the recipe called for 25 grams of Sodium Ascorbate you would use 22 g of Vitamin C.

Example: 25 g • 0.88 = 22 g
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Postby Oddley » Sat Nov 18, 2006 2:12 am

dougal, I have just noticed your edit. I really have said what I want, I think I will leave the members to draw their own conclusions on your edit. Only to say we live in Europe not the USA where the FDA is notoriously cautious.

Plus you are weakening your own argument by quoting the FDA and using the formation of nitrosamines as an argument against nitrates in bacon. If nitrosamines are of no concern why worry about nitrate?
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Postby dougal » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:43 am

Sorry Oddley, you are plain wrong on this.
Using Ascorbic Acid in bacon is NOT permitted by the FDA.


Oddley wrote:To refute these claims please open the FDA PROCESSING INSPECTORS' CALCULATIONS HANDBOOK page 35, where you will see a chapter on CURE ACCELERATOR CALCULATIONS. ...
    Image

OOPS !!!
The Chapter begins on Page 34 where it says
The amounts listed in Table III, on the next page, are the permitted maximums for accelerators
used alone and in combination in the curing of pumped, massaged, immersed, comminuted, and
dried meat or poultry products other than bacon.

Got that?
Table III specifically does NOT apply to bacon.
Bacon is different. And you are looking on the wrong page.

That same Meat Inspectors Handbook paragraph continues
Maximums for sodium ascorbate and sodium
erythorbate (isoascorbate)
in bacon are given in Chapter 3, page 28.


Take a look on page 28 and you will find
Because of problems associated with nitrosamine formation in bacon, MPI Regulations, section
318.7(b)(1) and (3) prescribe the amounts of nitrite and sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate
(isoascorbate) to be used in pumped and massaged bacon. For the immersion curing and dry
curing of bacon, maximum amounts of sodium and potassium nitrite are prescribed in section
318.7(b)(5) and (6) of the MPI Regulations.

{and on the following page}
Nitrate is no
longer permitted in any curing method for bacon.

...

Pumped, Massaged, Immersion Cured, or Dry Cured Bacon (rind-on): The
maximum limit for ingoing nitrite and sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate must be adjusted if
bacon is prepared from pork bellies with attached skin (rind-on). A pork belly's weight is
comprised of approximately 10 percent skin. Since the skin retains practically no cure solution or
cure agent, the maximum ingoing nitrite and sodium ascorbate or erythorbate limits must be
reduced by 10 percent.


The regulations state what is permitted.
If it isn't listed, it is NOT permitted.

Ascorbic Acid is not listed as a permitted accelerator for bacon.


Please spare us this sort of nonsense
Oddley wrote: I don't take any document that doesn't mention something as proof that it is banned.

When its a list of what IS permitted, not being on the list means it is banned.

It really is that simple.
The US does not allow Ascorbic Acid in bacon.
They require AscorbATE and NitrITE in bacon.
They do not allow NitrATE in bacon.


An apology would be accepted.
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Postby Oddley » Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:06 pm

Oh dear dougal you seem to have got annoyed. Has it turned from a debate into an argument.

Not on my side anyway. As for an apology...LOL one does not apologise in what was until now a debate.

I would have happily continued and if I had got one or more of my points wrong I would have cheerfully admitted it, as I have done in the past. Debate is a way for me to clarify my thoughts.

You seem to have lost the plot a bit and taken it personally. So I will leave your last little tantrum as the last post on the subject.
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Postby dougal » Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:49 pm

I'm not having any tantrum, but I am being hassled to do lots of things at the same time, and some against the clock.

My apology.
Oddley wrote:I don't know where you got you recommended amounts of nitrite from. 120 ppm is the optimum amount to keep to, not the maximum amount. The FDA specify's, 200 ppm as the max amount for bacon, the FSA 150 ppm as the max.

Tired brain.
I was confusing the FDA limits for immersion (massaging and pumping) of 120 ppm Nitrite with their more relaxed limit of 200ppm for dry cured. (I believe these are historical differences, being introduced at different times.)

My mistake, cheerfully admitted.


To repeat, this began with Oddley advising a confused newbie that using Ascorbate (with NitrATE) was "essential" to avoid nitrosamines.

I'd still like to know what that statement is based on.



My position accords, I believe with the UK and European one, that bacon nitrosamines have not been shown to present any definite risk to human health.
If you use Nitrate you will get significant residual nitrate after curing, and so after frying, detectable nitrosamine - and hence the US banned it -- even with ascorbate.
The addition of ascorbate to Nitrate is IMHO not only not essential, but its not actually achieving the objective Oddley claims - otherwise the method would be permitted in the US.
Its no wonder people get confused when told that things are "essential" when it would seem that they do not have the claimed effect.

Ascorbate does not accelerate the breakdown of nirATE to nitrITE (that seems to be purely bacterial). It acts on, accelerates, the breakdown of nitrITE. Hence it has little impact on the residual nitrATE level.
It is a reasonable hypothesis that it is the taste of this residual nitrATE that causes some people to prefer bacon cured with at least some nitrATE (saltpetre).

Ascorbate has many worthwhile uses, as I said previously, including use as an anti-oxidant preservative. But it really doesn't eliminate nitrosamines in nitrATE cured bacon...
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Postby saucisson » Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:47 pm

My understanding from everything I have read elsewhere is that nitrItes react with amines to form nitrosamines and that ascorbate accelerates the break down of nitrItes to substances that do not form nitrosamines.

NitrAtes act as a reservoir for nitrItes, but do not themselves form nitrosamines. Have I got this wrong?

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Postby dougal » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:14 pm

Dunno Dave.

Certainly my understanding is that ascorbate makes sure that the residual nitrite is as low as possible - so that, by the time of cooking there is almost none there.

Remember that the US FDA (who are the main people fussed about nitrosamines) do not permit (ie ban) the use of nitrATE in all types of bacon, regardless of ascorbate - specifically citing nitrosamines as their justification.

Maybe *they* have got it wrong?


Tannenbaum ascribes the nitrATE risk to "endogenous" (ie internal) reduction to nitrITE
PubMed link
Though, I don't think he is considering high temperature cooking...
I've seen figures somewhere suggesting that, in Europe, cured meat is only a minor source of nitrATE intake - but I don't recall their presumptions as to the relative use of nitrITE and nitrATE... :D
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Postby saucisson » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:27 pm

Hi Dougal,

So could it be that the US is concerned that a source of nitrate will be topping up the nitrites at a rate that they cannot precisely control as it's a biological process, so prefer to go for a known amount off nitrite from the start?.

Whether the source of nitrite is added directly or biologically derived from nitrate the levels of nitrite are decreased by ascorbate so that's a good thing. Is that correct? I've never added ascorbate but am now beginning to think I should.

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Postby dougal » Sat Nov 18, 2006 9:53 pm

Dave, I feel that if anyone shares the FDA concerns, they should be following the FDA advice and curing bacon, with ascorbate and nitrITE, not nitrATE.

Which is the point I was making back at the start of the thread... :lol:
Stuck record, sorry!
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Postby saucisson » Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:33 am

Hi Dougal,
Just for the record then, what is your personal recommendation?, because you have me thoroughly confused now as to what you think best.

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Postby dougal » Mon Nov 20, 2006 5:23 pm

saucisson wrote:Hi Dougal,
Just for the record then, what is your personal recommendation?, because you have me thoroughly confused now as to what you think best.

Dave


My own position on nitrosamines from bacon is that they don't represent a great health hazard. Sure, they aren't good for lab rats, they aren't going to be beneficial, but they wouldn't seem to be a significant risk to humans. The vast majority of the nitrATE in the diet comes from green veg, and seems to produce nitrosamines during digestion.
It is a complicated field. EU and US advice differs.

BUT I'm not giving any advice at all on how much individuals should be concerned about nitrosamine.
I am mainly concerned about the creation of "prevention myths".
If you do really want to minimise nitrosamines the FDA advice is simple: Use nitrITE with ascorbATE (or isoascorbATE). No nitrATE, no asorbIC acid.

I know of no contrary official advice regarding minimising nitrosamines in bacon.


As I said at the beginning, I think that the safest, simplest thing for the confused beginner is to use a ready-mixed (nitrITE based) cure.
For a beginner wanting to "roll their own", I'd say use Prague No 1 and ideally with ascorbate.

These will give a pretty much guaranteed result. The cure should succeed and produce 'bacon' rather than salt pork. The nitrite and ascorbate accelerator will see to that. And there should be no safety issues. Even in measuring the cure.
IMHO, this is the most sensible beginning.
But this is only my personal opinion.

I did say that, for the minimalist DIYer, all that was really needed was accurately measured saltpetre.
Using it requires an element of bacterial management, quite apart from any FDA concerns, and so it just isn't as 'reliable'.
IMHO, its not the best way to start. Again just personal opinion.

Its not about what I think gives the best result in terms of taste..
I don't think that *I* can identify by taste whether a bacon has been cured (or preserved) with nitrATE. Among commercial bacons, I do prefer Duchy Originals to Walls, but I'm not claiming that's because of the Prince using only nitrITE. For me, salt, sugar and water levels, plus any flavours used, are much more important, more detectable, than the form of the curing salt.
But I'm not saying that applies to anyone else.

I'm not on any crusade, except trying to save a newbie from confusion and inaccuracy.
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Postby saucisson » Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:39 pm

Hi Dougal, thanks a lot for that, I wasn't trying to trip you up, but I was honestly interested in your personal opinion, which you have given, and I now understand it, thank you again for the clarification. It's an extremely complicated subject once you start looking into it as we have found out, with officialdom on the 2 sides of the Atlantic going in different directions.

I think it would be safe to recommend "beginners" use a commercial cure to start with, no more no less. Tinkering with commercial mixes opens up a minefield unless you know what you are doing and I would be the first to admit I don't, even though I have my own thoughts on the subject.

I would like to try and draft a consensus document for those interested in their own mixes with approprite caveats applied and would like to circulate it to those interested, for their input, or better yet have the input upfront before I put it together.

Any thoughts anyone?

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Postby Patricia Thornton » Mon Nov 20, 2006 9:08 pm

I have followed this discussion with great interest but it has simply proved to me how little I know or understand about the whole subject. To highlight the extent of my ignorance: I purchased a supply of saltpetre thinking (at the time) it was an absolute necessity if I ever wanted to produce salt beef, but since joining the forum I have been terrified of using it. In fact, until this discussion started, I didn't even know it could be used for making bacon.

Assuming I have the right end of the stick Dave, I think it would be a good idea to have the experts produce a 'standard' that people like me could refer to, once we have have the courage or expertise to be a bit more adventurous.
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Postby saucisson » Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:15 am

We would benefit from a consensus, achieved from our combined knowledge...
If we could set it up so as to get a scale between ultimate sanitised over processed and slapped in salt for a bit at the other end so much the better.

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