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Old 03-21-2006, 09:05 PM   #1
charles barry
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Does anyone know the risks of consuming Sodium Nitrite in beef jerky? I'm wondering if this is a real concern. I eat probably a 1/4 pound of jerky per week.

Thanks.
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:51 PM   #2
Garrett Smith
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Sodium nitrite is a well-known carcinogen.

This is only half joking--what's the risk of smoking one cigarette a week? A month? A year?

Who knows?

I'd suggest you try your best to find some jerky without nitrates/nitrites. Rather than quantify the known problem, eliminate the problem completely. I know Trader Joe's has some without it, it shouldn't be hard at all to find with a little effort on your part.
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Old 03-22-2006, 02:28 AM   #3
Andrew Cattermole
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Most of the Aus Bacon has Sodium nitrite in it,not sure about US.Its found in a lot of products that many consider daily items.
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Old 03-22-2006, 06:30 AM   #4
Steve Shafley
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It's easier and healthier to make your own. You can make it out of ground meats, as well. Grassfed beef and buffalo make good jerky. It's not hard, you can do it in an oven, though a dehydrator is more convenient.

There are a lot of recipes on the web without liquid smoke or sodium nitrites.

This is a nice link

http://www.fabulousfoods.com/recipes/misc/jerky.html

I mix my ground beef and spices by hand and it works pretty good.

I refrigerate mine after drying, and without the preservatives, this is necessary, but it will keep outside for a day or so if you carry it around as a snack.

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Old 03-22-2006, 06:37 AM   #5
Robert Wolf
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This is an interesting link:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distrib...on/DJ0974.html


Perhaps Brad can jump in on htis as well.

A recent NewScientist article mentioned that nitrAtes (different than nitrItes) were thought to be carcinogenic (mutagenic on the ames test) but they actually improve gi-flora in such a way that they are anti-carcinogenic Can someone google that and se if they cna find that or the pubmed citation.

The issue is not clear cut in my mind, finding as clean a source as you can is a great idea..if that is not possible it may not be a huge thing.
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Old 03-22-2006, 08:56 AM   #6
Paul Findley
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Walmart sells a dehydrator that is basically a hair dryer motor with disk like shelves. I use it to make beef jerky. I have considered buying more of the levels so I could do an entire large brisket in one load. I tried the hamburger once, but found using brisket like meat (flank steak too) are good since they are so lean, and the fiber of the tissue makes for good gnawing.
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Old 03-22-2006, 09:16 AM   #7
David Stegman
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I saw an episode of "Good Eats" on the Food Network and Alton Brown suggested that it's better to make your own "cool air" dehydrator rather than use a conventional one you buy at a store. Mainly due to those actually heating up and cooking the meat instead of actually dehydrating.

Basically he used those cheap air filters you buy for your home AC unit. You get a few of them and lay in the strips of meat in the creases of the filter. Stack them about 4 deep and then use cheap bungie cords to attach them to a regular box fan. You then open a window and place it upright and point the fan out of the window. Turn on the fan and let it run until the meat is fully dehydrated.

It's supposed to take longer but also actually dehydrates instead of cooking it.

I haven't tried this method yet. Thinking about it though.
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Old 03-22-2006, 10:44 AM   #8
Garrett Smith
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstra ct&list_uids=16544952&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docs um

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstra ct&list_uids=15164624&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docs um

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstra ct&list_uids=14593538&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docs um

I would also venture to say that isolated, chemically-derived nitrates/nitrites (as in "tube meats", I'm making an assumption on their synthesis here) have very different biological effects than naturally-occurring, complexed nitrates/nitrates (as in vegetables). Same principle as vitamins (synthetic vs. food-derived).
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Old 03-22-2006, 11:54 AM   #9
Robert Wolf
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I love Alton Brown....I'd kill for his job...and Bill Nye the Science Guy...
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Old 03-22-2006, 12:05 PM   #10
Peter Queen
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David: I saw that episode. It was episode 132 and was titled “Urban Preservation 2: The Jerky”. I thought it was pretty cool how he used something as cheap as A/C air filters to make beef jerky. Unfortunately, I am not sure when they are going to re-air it. But your explanation is exact.

Dr.G.: I find it interesting that Sodium Nitrate(NaNCO3) is also used in explosives and in solid rocket propellants. If memory serves, I believe that it is one of the key chemicals that are found in our fire departments road side emergency and chimney flares(I'll have to investigate that). Makes one wonder why it is in the foods in the first place. Unfortunately in this fast pace world of the two parent working households we find ourselves having to buy processed meats with preservatives and other chemicals in them.
What ever happened to the days when you could get your meat fresh daily at the local butcher shop on the corner?:happy:

Robert: Bacterial action during curing converts the sodium nitrate into sodium nitrite(NaNO2), which kills bacteria that cause botulism…
http://sci-toys.com/ingredients/sodium_nitrate.html

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