A food firm has created the world’s first pigs in blankets free of cancer-causing nitrites – and British shoppers will try them before anyone else. The Christmas snacks, made up of chipolata sausages and bacon, have been secretly in production since April. But new technology has let makers Finnebrogue Artisan produce them without any nitrites or artificial additive. The system no longer uses the carcinogenic chemicals traditionally used to cure the meat.
It will come as a boost for consumers worried about their health following the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organisation have made a direct link between nitrites in processed meats and the development of colorectal cancer.
Nitrates and nitrites are two different types of chemical compound and despite similar names have different properties. Nitrates are inert and considered safe but when a reaction is caused – like being added to brine – they can be changed into more problematic nitrites. There is a growing consensus of scientific opinion that nitrites produce carcinogenic nitrosamines when they are added to meat and ingested. Experts have drawn a direct link between the consumption of nitrite-cured meat and bowel cancer.
Denis Lynn, Chairman of Finnebrogue Artisan, commented: ‘Millions of us love pigs in blankets as part of our Christmas lunch, but until now the bacon used to wrap the sausages has been packed full of nitrites. ‘Everything we do at Finnebrogue is about making food the best it can possibly be, without being bound by the way it’s always been done.
‘Our team has been working flat out to adapt our nitrite-free technology so it can be used to produce delicious pigs in blankets without any of the nasty chemicals – and amazingly they’ve cracked it.
‘We hope our Naked Pigs in Blankets will bring a little extra cheer to lunches up and down the nation this Christmas.’
Nitrates on their own are generally safe, but it is when they are turned into nitrites that they become more dangerous. As well as the WHO, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have also established a ‘strongest link yet’ between nitrates in processed meat products and cancer risk And Professor Chris Elliott, the UK’s top food scientist, has welcomed the creation of safer nitrite-free bacon.
He said: ‘To have a bacon produced naturally, that doesn’t require such chemicals to be added or formed during processing, is a very welcome development.’
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