There's been a row about the risks of eating processed meat and its derivatives in recent years, with scientific studies suggesting it can cause cancer. These studies have linked cancer and processed meat based on evaluation data and experiments. The data has shown that there is some risk already involved with eating processed meat and revealed that there is probably an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer due to its carcinogenic nature, like bowel cancer, when consuming these products regularly. So we want to look at what is processed meat, whether these studies' results are accurate, what the risks are, and if you should eat processed meat or not.
What is Processed Meat?
According to the WHO definition, processed meat is "ready-to-eat" meat transformed through or preserved by smoking, curing, salting, fermentation, or adding chemical preservatives. Food manufacturers do these processes to preserve the meat, add flavors, or extend its shelf life. Processed meat could be processed from pork, beef, or even poultry. It can also contain other types of meat like offal, beef organs, or meat by-products like blood and other red meats. Many of these processed meat products are sold widely at the stores, and they include bacon, sausages, corned beef, ham, salami, canned meat, canned beef, hot dogs, beef jerky, pepperoni, biltong, lunch meat, chicken nuggets, and other meat-based preparations and sauces.
What Kind of Chemical Preservatives are Used In Processed Meat?
Sodium or Potassium Nitrates, N-nitroso Compounds, and Nitrosamines are the preservatives and additives used to process processed meat. The sodium or potassium nitrates are converted to nitrites during the process, which professionals consider the main ingredient in cured meat. Their primary role is to inhibit the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria due to its antimicrobial properties and control spoilage bacteria that spores in processed meats. Additionally, they result in changing the color, aroma, and flavor of the meat cures. They are used in a regulated manner due to their adverse effects on human health.
What are Nitrites, and How Does It Cause Cancer?
Nitrites are sodium and potassium nitrates and their substances. These compounds occur naturally in the human body and are observed through some food like plant and animal food. Humans' primary consumption comes from the vegetables like root and leafy vegetables. The human body also produces them and secretes them into saliva. They are circulated from the digestive system into the blood, then into saliva, and back to the digestive system. They work as antimicrobials in the digestive system and keep the human body healthy. They are classified as safe compounds by many organizations like US Food and Drug Administration and are not directly causing cancer.
Yet, they are safe, but how could they cause cancer? It happens when nitrites interact with specific meat components like heme iron or haem, amides, amines, or amino acids, forming Nitrosamines or Nitroso compounds. In other words, if the processed meat contains high sodium and potassium nitrates and is rich in protein and amines or amino acids and underexposure to some circumstances like high temperatures or heat, this creates an ideal environment for the Nitrosamines to form. Hence, a great chance of causing bowel or colorectal cancer. There are many different types of these Nitroso compounds, and many of them can be associated with the cause of bowel or colorectal cancer when exceeding the limits of processed meat consumption.
How is No Rush Freeze-Dried Meat a Safer Choice for Consumption?
No Rush offers freeze-dried meat with no additives and preservatives. We use high-quality and natural New Zealand meats processed through freeze-drying technology, which involves no nitrites or any other type of preservatives. Freeze-drying technology allows us to conserve our meat and seafood products much closer to their original states, maintaining their nutritional values. The process goes by removing the water content from frozen meat through sublimation. The primary purpose of this process is to preserve the meat foods and retain their original characteristics and flavor when rehydrated. That ensures our freeze-dried meat is maintained and provides the following advantages nutritional values, natural taste, lightweight, long-life shelf, and easy cooking and mobility.
Freeze-dried meat has widely proven its natural and healthy value over processed meat. Recent studies have shown that processed meat contains cancer-causing chemicals like nitrates. On the other hand, Freeze-dried meat food doesn't contain any additives, preservatives, cancer-causing ingredients, or toxic chemicals of any kind. It has solid nutritional values, safe and tasty.