Organic, Natural Meat May Have More Preservatives Than Label Says

If you avoid standard processed meats because of labels indicating they’re packed with potentially damaging preservatives including nitrate and nitrite, your efforts may be in vain. The “organic” and “natural” alternatives may include similar chemicals, despite what their labels say.

The New York Times reports USDA labeling requirements go astoundingly easy on organic products that derive nitrate and nitrite from natural sources, requiring them to misleadingly state on packaging that the meat, which is cured and may contain nitrate or nitrite, is “uncured” with “no nitrates or nitrites added.” Some food manufacturers, the story says, are pushing for rules that allow them to be more clear about the content of the hot dogs, bacon, lunch meat and other products.

Studies have linked processed meats to colon cancer. Consumer advocates including Consumerist-affiliated Consumers Union place the blame for the labeling confusion on the USDA and not the manufacturers.

What foods and chemicals do you avoid for safety reasons?

What’s Inside the Bun? [The New York Times]
(Thanks, Howard!)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.