I have been chasing down the components of the recommended bacon cures of one of the UKs largest cure manufacturers and there appears to be some inconsistency and confusion as to the interpretation of the EU regulations. This is not surprising when you read the current "Official Journal of the European Union (L 295/103)" which details the EU regulations that set the residual Nitrate and Nitrite limits in traditionally cured meat products. Even though buried deep in here (page 104) are very specific limits for the residual amount of both Nitrate and Nitrite associated with each traditional curing, the limits for bacon (either wet or dry cured) give two different maximum levels for Nitrite with no explanation as to why two values have been included. I can only assume that one is a typo. To give you something to help you sleep tonight I have reproduced the sections on bacon below. I have restructured the tables a little bit to make them a little easier to read. ***** 08.2.4.1 - Traditional immersion cured products (Meat products cured by immersion in a curing solution containing nitrites and/or nitrates, salt and other components) Wiltshire bacon and similar products: Meat is injected with curing solution followed by immersion curing for 3 to 10 days. The immersion brine solution also includes microbiological starter cultures Max mg/kg Nitrites175 Maximum residual amount, residue level at the end the production processNitrites100Maximum residual amount, residue level at the end the production processNitrates250 Maximum residual amount, residue level at the end the production process Nitrates may be present in some heat-treated meat products resulting from natural conversion of nitrites to nitrates in a low-acid environment 08.2.4.2 - Traditional dry cured products. (Dry curing process involves dry application of curing mixture containing nitrites and/or nitrates, salt and other components to the surface of the meat followed by a period of stabilisation/maturation). Dry cured bacon and similar products Dry curing followed by maturation for at least 4 days Max mg/kg Nitrites175 Maximum residual amount, residue level at the end the production processNitrites100Maximum residual amount, residue level at the end the production processNitrates250 Maximum residual amount, residue level at the end the production process Nitrates may be present in some heat-treated meat products resulting from natural conversion of nitrites to nitrates in a low-acid environment ***** For bacon they do not actually define any particular Nitrite/Nitrate limits in the cure itself but leave it to the person producing the 'bacon to ensure that their curing method doesn't result in residual amounts exceeding the limits. The onus is right back on us guys. The exact take up of cure will actually vary with each batch of meat and cure method, so the residual amounts can only really be determined by chemical assay of sample batches of the finished product. The cure manufacturer also said that he understood different techniques would also result in different levels of cure uptake - e.g. cure in vac pack is likely to have a higher cure uptake than in a zip-lock bag or in cling film. This will mean that in order to get a good indication of actual average cure update several batches would need to be analysed for each of the cure method used. The main reason for starting this investigation was because I got a bit of a surprise when I was sent the data sheets for the commercial Supracure bacon curing salt. It turns out that it contains 0.6% Nitrate and 0.6% Nitrite in salt and the instructions are to use it at ratio of 5% to meat. This works out as a salt concentration of 5% and gives both Nitrate and Nitrite at a level of 300 mg/kg (Ppm). Bearing in mind that in the USA NO Nitrate is permitted at all in bacon and the Nitrite is limited to 200 Ppm in the cure this did not sound quite right to me. I discussed this at length with the cure manufacturer's Technical Manager and, although he said the residual Ppm throughout the meat would be less than the calculated Ppm in the straight cure, he did think on reflection that they may need to reconsider their recommended published cure to meat ratio. He thought that it should probably be closer to 3% than the current 5% and that he would need to do some more research. This would then provide a Nitrite at 180 mg/kg (Ppm) and salt at 3%. Unfortunately this would still also provide Nitrate at 180 Ppm as well, which I am not really happy about. I have asked if they can do a version of the cure with no Nitrate, however without a volume market out there for it I am not sure whether they will consider it. In the meantime I have made myself up another batch of Cure #1 so that I can continue to cure the bacon Nitrate free. In order to ensure mixing consistency I make the Cure #1 in Kilo batches. As each batch of bacon only needs a small quantity of Cure #1 itself, I have quite a lot on my shelf. If anyone on the forum here in the UK needs some Cure #1 to try their hand at bacon curing then please let me know and I will pop a pouch of it in the post.