I'm doing hot smoked salmon and going to give to lots of friends and family and possibly start a small mail-order business if things go well. I've been reading and reading about food safety and the use of Sodium Nitrite to inhibit Botulism toxin.
What is interesting is that most of the commercial smoked salmon makers that produce a vacuum sealed product, do NOT use Sodium Nitrite in their brine/cure. Instead there is just a note on the label 'Must be stored below 40F' or something to that effect.
The likelihood of Botulism toxin developing is quite low, but if it ever did develop, it could kill someone. This would be risky to a business which makes me wonder why few use it? Is it because based on history they've never had a problem so then in the unlikely event they just use liability insurance to protect their business? Of course if it says refrigerate below 40F and the person didn't, then its not the makers fault. But what if there is a delay in shipment even when the shipment had ice packs and it is a hot summer?
Sodium Nitrite is considered safe. It is toxic but the amount used to cure meats is very small. There is evidence it can break down over time into products that have shown to be carcinogens for lab animals. A lot of people these days that are health-conscious avoid any products with Nitrites or Nitrates in them. You see at the grocery store, nitrate-free hot dogs, uncured bacon, etc. These products would probably have the same if not higher possibility of botulism than smoked salmon.
Further research says that it takes 7 days at room temp for botulism to develop in smoked salmon and this is when they injected the spores in it purposely. At 50F it takes weeks.
Yet I talked to a lady that has been running a small commercial smokehouse business for 45 years and she uses prague powder #1 in her dry brine at a rate of about 15% prague powder to 85% normal pickling salt. The brine it about 2.5 parts of salt/prague to 1 part sugars. So she's using about 10% prague powder in the dry mix, at 6.25% Sodium nitrite, that means there's about 0.6% sodium nitrite in her dry brine. For meats, the ratio is 4 ounces per 100 lbs of meat, but I believe that is for actually mixing the stuff into the meat (like sausage) ?
This is a somewhat technical subject but this forum has been around a long time. There must be people here with knowledge/experience regarding use of Sodium Nitrite. I'd love to hear your perspective.