the controversy over nitro additives turns red

For a few months, this moment was awaited, as much by the professionals of the delicatessen as by the actors of the movement of “better eating”. On Wednesday January 13, MEPs Richard Ramos (Modem), Barbara Bessot-Ballot (LREM) and Michèle Crouzet (UDI) presented their report on nitrite salts, preservatives used in cold meats suspected of promoting the appearance of certain cancers.

The result of around forty hours of hearings with public decision-makers, researchers, industrialists and craftspeople in the agri-food industry, and unanimously adopted by the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, the report reaches a radical conclusion . he recommends the gradual ban of these “nitro additives”, currently authorized in France without being compulsory. It advocates in particular a ban in two stages: first, from 1 January 2023, in “non heat-treated meat products”, like raw ham, then, from January 1, 2025, “for all charcuterie products”, including cooked ham.

Danger or risk?

“We are convinced that the threat to public health is serious enough to justify the intervention of the public authorities”, explained Michèle Crouzet.

“The indirect proof of the carcinogenic character of the cocktail between nitrite salts and the meat which contains them is reached”, added Richard Ramos, longtime opponent of these additives.

The existence of a causal relationship between the use in processed meats of potassium nitrite (E249), sodium nitrite (E250), sodium nitrate (E251) and potassium nitrate (E252) in fact constitutes the main subject of debate between supporters and opponents of a ban. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified processed meat as a proven carcinogenic agent for humans, citing in particular an increased risk of colorectal cancer. linked to daily consumption. This risk is explained by an interaction between these additives and the heme iron contained in the meat, which form compounds potentially …

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