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Nitrite Toxicity

chef jimmyj

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How Much Nitrite is Dangerous
According to the report prepared in 1972 for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Battele-Columbus Laboratories and Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22151 – the fatal dose of potassium Nitrate for humans is in the range of 30 to 35 grams (about two tablespoons) consumed as a single dose; the fatal dose of sodium nitrite is in the range of 22 to 23 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. A 156 lbs adult (71 kg) would have to consume 14.3 pounds (6.5 kg) of cured meat containing 200 ppm of sodium nitrite at one time. Taking into consideration that nitrite is rapidly converted to nitric oxide during the curing process, the 14.3 lbs amount will have to be doubled or even tripled. The equivalent amount of pure sodium nitrite consumed will be 1.3 g. One gram (1 ppm) of pure sodium nitrite is generally accepted as a life threatening dose.

As nitrite is mixed with large amounts of salt, it would be impossible to swallow it at least from a culinary point of view. Besides, our cures are pink and it would be very hard to mistake them for common salt.

The following information comes from the book “Meat Through the Microscope” written by C.Robert Moulton, Ph.D. and W.Lee Lewis, Ph.D. and published by Institute of Meat Packing, The University of Chicago:

Soaking reduced the curing agents in most of the sub-sections (sliced ham-our note) but especially in the butt and face sections. Smoking had little effect on the salt, nitrate and sugar content but the nitrite content was decreased. Baking reduced the percentages of all curing ingredients but the nitrite was so greatly reduced that the highest value found was only 11 parts per million. Table 66 gives the average composition of the five whole hams and shows clearly the effects of soaking, smoking and baking.
Effect of Operations on Composition of Hams
StageSalt %Sugar %Nitrate %Nitrite p.p.m.Water %
Out of cure%Salt 4.93%Sugar 0.79%Nitrate 0.057PpmNitrite 138%Water 65
Soaked4.600.720.04811567
Smoked5.150.760.0608065
Baked4.300.630.050256

(WOW That'she some Salty Ham...JJ)

To emphasize the importance of these results, and especially of the very great destruction of nitrite by baking, one should remember in contrast that sweet-pickle solutions will contain from 500 to 1000 parts of nitrite per million and that the surface of hams removed from such pickles, especially at the ragged edges of the butt, will most certainly contain over 200 p.p.m. However, after soaking and smoking the average nitrite content is well within the prescribed limits. In the survey summarized above only two out of 10 surface sections showed over 200 p.p.m. of nitrite. In spite of the figures given in the first part of this paragraph, no subsection of surface meat showed more than 11 p.p.m. after baking.

By the time meats are consumed, they contain less then 50 parts per million of nitrite. It is said that commercially prepared meats in the USA contain about 10 ppm of nitrite when bought in a supermarket.

FROM this Highly Respected infomation.

 

bill1

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I don't disagree but vigilance never hurts. For one thing, I wouldn't bank on meat at the store being 10ppm NaNO2. Since 150ppm is (I believe) currently the legal limit, it would be conservative to assume your purchased meat is closer to that level. Granted, when taken direct to grill, even a generous 2# serving in a 200# man reduces that to a total body dose of 1.5ppm, considerably less than your fatal 22ppm number, though not that much less than the 5ppm number given as the Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level. (I for one would like to avoid adverse effects, such as COPD, as well as instant toxic death.)

But that was for meat direct-to-grill. Many in our community like to "encourage" the smoke ring by adding a little extra of the pink stuff to their salt brines. Even at a 10:1 ratio of table salt to Prague Powder1 (6250ppm) sprinkling 5 tsp of this on a 7# butt adds 62ppm NaNO2 to what might have already been a 150ppm level, so my 2# portion is now only half the unhealthy limit in my 200# body. Still probably "OK", but make sure you're calculating all this whenever you're adding this stuff yourself. A lot of folks think the pink powder has already been cut 15:1 so it must be safe to use as-is...but you better cut it another 10X . This is NOT normal "kitchen chemistry".

The need to calculate applies to fresh slaughter-to-homemade sausage too.

Also, although it's comforting knowing the 138ppm hams were reduced to 2-11ppm (more than 10X added safety) after baking, this is a smoking forum and I was little surprised/disappointed to see we didn't even pick up a factor of 2 reduction (from 138 to 80) in the Smoked case. (I'd be curious to know if that was "cold smoked" ham...what was the temperature of the smoke?) So yeah, the nitrite to NO to smoke ring chemistry may be happening, but only to 50% of the NaNO2.

Bottom line: NaNO2 can kill you. And the difference between the level that makes you sick and the level that kills you is not really a lot. It's only as widespread as it is because botulism would kill millions without it. So like electricity and table saws, use it wisely.
 

chef jimmyj

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Howdy Bill1...
The 10ppm in Stores is Fully Cooked Ham. A 200ppm Legal Limit, if that high, as their Test Ham was only138ppm and SMF suggests 156ppm, would only be found in a Raw Cured Leg before Smoking and Baking.

The lethal dose of Nitrite is 22mg/Kg of body weight. For a 156 lb (71Kg) Man that's 1.3g Pure Nitrite. Thats 14.6 lbs of RAW 200ppm Ham and by their proposed Fully Cooked Store Bought Ham having only 10ppm... That would require the 156 lb man eat 292 Pounds of Cooked Ham in a single sitting to be Lethal! Almost twice his body weight.😨
You are referencing Greg Blonder's work above. Please provide a separate link, before or after the paragraph, to give credit to the man's work an make reading the whole article easier.
The numbers in Bold Face, below, I believe should be " mg/Kg " rather than " ppm ".

Granted, when taken direct to grill, even a generous 2# serving in a 200# man reduces that to a total body dose of 1.5ppm, considerably less than your fatal 22ppm number, though not that much less than the 5ppm number given as the Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level.

Is the following Anecdotal or do you have a source? I know " of " adding a small amount of Cure #1 to a rub for a FAUX RING, but didnt think it that common and have never seen numbers put down anywhere. Admittedly, I never looked as I felt no need to do this personally.😊
Anywho, I am curious and would like to know more...JJ
 

dernektambura

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Bottom line is: use of Nitrite @ recommended level keeps meat safe for consumption...
Seems to be a lot of confusion about how and when to use cure #1 and cure #2...
- cure #1 contains mix of salt and nitrite and my understanding is that cure#1 is used for product which MUST be cooked before consumption...
Cure #2 contains mix of salt, nitrite and nitrate and is used for product which DOES NOT need to be cooked before consumption...
Whichever case it may be, cooked or non cook, I hope everyone makes educated decision to use Nitrite/nitrate for their own good and safe food consumption and preservation...
As for "faux smoke ring:
It is a mark made by a chemical reaction. When nitric acid is absorbed back into the surface of the meat in combination with nitrogen dioxide from smoke it changes the color of the flesh.
And yes, I've read reports on the net about some BBQ events competitors brushing nitrite on meat surfaces to produce fake faux smoke ring...
 
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thirdeye

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It's nice to see some actual stats on the decrease of nitrates between smoking and baking. I've read some of Blonder's articles that implies that nitrites gas-off (?) during cooking and the end result is a lower amount. And in another article he was talking salt diffusion and said heat accelerates the curing time.

So, if I'm reading this correctly... smoking is assuming lower cooking temperatures, and baking is assuming something like 325°+ temperatures. The higher the temperature the more of a decrease in the PPM. Let's say I have a cold smoked slab of bacon with 80 PPM remaining. Once the slices are baked or fried, will the PPM continue to go down? Next, let's say I have a hot smoked slab of bacon that reached 150°, can I assume that slab has fallen into the 2 PPM category?

In competition barbecue.... since adding nitrates will make a smoke ring pop , judges are instructed to not take that into account for appearance scoring. But some cooks do it anyway. And plenty of cooks get a nice smoke ring without doctoring a brisket with nitrates. An alternate is using celery seed, which goes with beef anyway. The way it was explained to me was to wet the inside face of the flat and lightly sprinkle on Tender Quick as Cure#1 is to hard to apply evenly. Wait 20 or 30 minutes, then rinse it off or mist and blot dry with a paper towel. Next, wait at least an hour before seasoning and cooking.

This is a flat I did doctor with TQ, then wrapped it in foil and baked in an oven. So no smoke, no charcoal and seasoned with salt and pepper only.
wWZGT.jpg

This is a non-doctored brisket, but I go on the pit with cold meat and a lower pit temp, and I have some briquettes mixed in with the lump. Briquettes have nitrates in the filler to aid in combustion.
pfreXMW.jpg
 

chef jimmyj

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thirdeye thirdeye The Brisket looks nice and it shows how easily Faking a Smoke Ring is.
I've not seen a chart that says...
At A°F you are left with Xppm.
At B°F you are left with Yppm.
At C°F you are left with Zppm.

The information on Smoking ppm and Baking ppm, is a chart from another book the author referenced. Why the author did not include the Smoker and Oven Temp is unknown. I would venture a guess, the Smoker Temple was +/-150°F, and the Oven was +/-325°F...JJ
 

dernektambura

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Whichever way you make nitrite safe level consumption calculation its gonna end up wrong... almost all of the side dishes contain one or more vegetables, naturally high in sodium nitrate: beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, radishes and spinach...
 

thirdeye

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thirdeye thirdeye The Brisket looks nice and it shows how easily Faking a Smoke Ring is.
I've not seen a chart that says...
At A°F you are left with Xppm.
At B°F you are left with Yppm.
At C°F you are left with Zppm.

The information on Smoking ppm and Baking ppm, is a chart from another book the author referenced. Why the author did not include the Smoker and Oven Temp is unknown. I would venture a guess, the Smoker Temple was +/-150°F, and the Oven was +/-325°F...JJ
And what are your thoughts on cold smoking bacon having a further reduction in PPM once it's cooked?

When doing Buckboard loins or the daveomak injected loins, I do cold smoke them, but ramp up the internal for a 150° finish, so I'm guessing the combination of smoke/bake puts them in to the lower class of PPM?
 

chef jimmyj

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Yes, the starting Nitrite level in BBB Loins, Smoked at 150°F, will drop as a portion of the Nitrite combines with the Myoglobin and some dissipates from the heat. Same with cooking Cold Smoked Belly Bacon...JJ
 

Bearcarver

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Getting confusing when you guys call BBB Loins.
CB is made from Loins.
BBB is made from Pork Butt.

No big deal, just mentioning it.

Bear
 

thirdeye

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Getting confusing when you guys call BBB Loins.
CB is made from Loins.
BBB is made from Pork Butt.

No big deal, just mentioning it.

Bear
I sometimes use 'buckboard' as a verb, as in "I buckboarded a loin", or "I buckboarded some chops". Fun Fact: It's the Americans that refer to loin bacon as Canadian. The Canadians call it back bacon.

I work with some Canadians and the Hi Mountain Buckboard Bacon kits are made about 100 miles from my house, and Tender Quick is readily available.... so both are easy for me to get. Anytime they ask me to send them some you must list the exact contents on the customs forms. I always put "Spices for making Canadian Bacon". The window clerks always make wise cracks like "you are sending spices to Canada so they can make Canadian bacon?" It's my 6th grade sense of humor at work again...
 

chef jimmyj

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Getting confusing when you guys call BBB Loins.
CB is made from Loins.
BBB is made from Pork Butt.

No big deal, just mentioning it.

Bear
I tend to agree but the definition seems to depend on the source...JJ😆

Buckboard bacon differs from traditional American style bacon in that its meat source is typically pork butt, also sometimes referred to as Boston Butt, despite its name does not come from the pig’s butt. Polk butt is a section of the pig that comes from the top part of the shoulder from the front legs.

Additionally, buckboard bacon can be sourced from pork loin as well, which is located just behind the shoulder along the back of the pig. Other areas of the pig can be used to make buckboard bacon, but basically it means any area that is not pork belly, where it is cured and then smoked.


This article is a long Blog about Making Buckboard Bacon from a Rear Leg instead of Ham! GO FIGURE...

 

thirdeye

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I tend to agree but the definition seems to depend on the source...JJ😆

Buckboard bacon differs from traditional American style bacon in that its meat source is typically pork butt, also sometimes referred to as Boston Butt, despite its name does not come from the pig’s butt. Polk butt is a section of the pig that comes from the top part of the shoulder from the front legs.

Additionally, buckboard bacon can be sourced from pork loin as well, which is located just behind the shoulder along the back of the pig. Other areas of the pig can be used to make buckboard bacon, but basically it means any area that is not pork belly, where it is cured and then smoked.


This article is a long Blog about Making Buckboard Bacon from a Rear Leg instead of Ham! GO FIGURE...

Fun Fact #2: In Boston, meat cutters had a specific way to separate the shoulder of hogs, and for storage and transport the upper roast was packed in barrels (casks) called 'Buttis' in latin or 'butts' for short. So , that's one version of how the name Boston butt was born.
 
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bill1

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JimmyJ--
Yes, both those links of mine were to Blonder's site...both links have his name and copyright clearly at the bottom of the pages so I thought the citation was adequate. Sorry if that wasn't clear; no academic slight intended. If you were instead referring to his value for LOAEL, you're right, he didn't reference that too well! The Jiang et al paper as referenced in the NaNO2 Wikipedia article may suffice however, if you're a real academic stickler you probably don't like my even mentioning Wikipedia!
I tend to regard this as an informal blog where we can get a little academically sloppy (not all of us have publication backgrounds!) but I suppose there's never an excuse to ease up on proper professional courtesies.
Your link for the legal limits I assume are correct (it's bibliographically lacking a bit as well!) and kinda' prove my point that even 150ppm assumptions are hardly conservative. High heat cooking buys you a lot of safety, but low temp smoking, maybe not all that much. As long as we're all calculating what we're doing and making realistic assumptions of our starting point, we should all stay healthy.
And of course mg/kg is identical to ppm since .001/1000 = 10^-6=ppm. I'm sure Blonder would approve the dimensionless units!
As far as defending the anecdote, I'm guilty as charged and it appears ThirdEye may know of a couple of sinners as well! :emoji_sunglasses:
 

chef jimmyj

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Please don't misunderstand. Nothing Formal like a classic Bibliography page needed. When I joined the powers that be suggested... Post an excerpt that's relative to your post, followed by a Link to the source, as I did above. This way anyone that would like more Info, especially with critical safety issues using Cure, can easily get to the original article and the Author gets credit.
I read your info twice before I stumbled on the " Given as" that took me to Blonder's paper.
I am just requesting that since folks can often benefit from additional info, that you post a more obvious link.

Let me see if I am on the same page as you...A Lethal Dose of Nitrite is 22mg/Kg of body weight...Then, if a man of Any Weight should consume enough Nitrite to reach 22ppm of his total weight, it's the same fatal dose?

On adding Cure to get a Ring, Nothing to defend... I didn't realize it was that common or desired. Hence my curiousity as to if you have seen info or an article on how many folks do it. A Ring is Pretty but contributes very little to the flavor of a big hunk of meat...JJ
 

dernektambura

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bill1 and JJ...
for someone like me who's english is second language I need straight answer...
If I ever successfully manage to eat in one day, 20 lbs of store bought, commercially processed bacon, m I gonna die? Yes. or no? 😊
 
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chef jimmyj

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Yes...But it's the Salt, in 20 pounds of Bacon, that will kill you first!😊...JJ

If my math is right...
20 pounds of Bacon, 9072g at 3% Salt contains about 272g Salt. A Lethal dose for a 75Kg man is 56g. I'm thinking 5X the Lethal dose would kill you!
 

thirdeye

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On adding Cure to get a Ring, Nothing to defend... I didn't realize it was that common or desired. Hence my curiousity as to if you have seen info 2or an article on how many folks do it. A Ring is Pretty but contributes very little to the flavor of a big hunk of meat...JJ
Let's not call doctoring a brisket common, it's just that some cooks will do it. Will they admit it is the question :emoji_wink:. Competition barbecue is in a class all it's own because it boils down to attractive food that judges take one bite from. And cooks can use a lot of techniques to get there. $150 wagyu briskets, Duroc pork, air dried organic chicken, injections or brines with phosphates, MSG, layers of various rubs, special sauces, Parkay, butter, and of course foil. The expression "If you say you don't use (insert anything), you're either lying or loosing" is really true. All that said I have bettered my backyard cooking by using some of the tricks of the trade.

Here is a photo of the first winner of the Memphis In May BBQ Contest. She's cooking on a pit made from a 55 gallon drum. Foil has been around competition barbecue for quite a while.
GPPKy.jpg
 

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