Your Drinking Water and Food - What You Must Know - Sodium Nitrates Found To Cause Cancer
Lunch meats, hot dogs, and ham all contain a substance called nitrites (or in some circumstances contain nitrate - note the "ate" the natural and original antimicrobial processing ingredient; "ite" is the man-made version).
Sadly, the labeling on our food does not tell us what is used in "processing" the food that we consume. The label guidelines do regulate cured meats and mandate that all "cured meats" must contain nitrate of some type in the processing - that is how the cured meat is allowed to age safely.
The level of nitrates and nitrites have been regulated over the years. And even with food processors of cured meat asking for greater disclosure, the food labels remain without any requirement for this disclosure.
We regulate the levels, but do not demand the disclosure of the levels. Do the government officials not trust the consumer with numbers? Why are the levels not disclosed? I would like an answer. And with the new research that links exposure to cancer, I feel the American public deserves a disclosure of the levels.
Yes, I did say it - the nasty truth is Cancer has been linked to this processing ingredient. There is research evidence of cancer, pancreatic cancer, being caused by nitrites.
We have learned to monitor our blood pressure, sodium intake, fat intake and yet with nitrites, and yet, we don't even have the figures on the food label to moderate the amount we consume.
Did you know your lunch meat could be processed with either a nitrate or a nitrite? One is organic and the "ite" is the inorganic. Want to learn more? Read on...
IS SODIUM NITRATE ON THE LABEL?
Dangers of Processed Meat and Sodium Nitrates
Nitrites in Cured Meats - Are They Safe?
American Meat Institute
Important Note: This physician in the white lab coat (the "Meat Science Guy") is from the AMI Foundation - the American Meat Institute Foundation.
Why Are Nitrates in My Water? How Do They Get There?
Nitrites are a favorite component in fertilizers. If you have a well, you are probably already testing for nitrites.
A well brings to you drinking water from the aquafir underneath your home. If you think of an aquafir as an underground lake, you will have a better visual of how your home's well water is a cumulative of the surrounding area. While you may have an individual well serving just your home, the water is from an aquafir that may serve a much larger area. The runoff into the streams that soaks into the ground and then into your well water. A diagram is provided below to help you with this visualization.
Immediate Drinking Water Test Kit
Testimonial on Home Drinking Water Test
"We have well water which we had tested by a local lab a year or two ago. I like to have the water tested regularly, mainly for bacteria, but the local lab charges $100 (if we want lead testing included, it's $200). I ordered this test kit thinking that I'd compare it to the results we got from the lab when we last had our water tested. If anything looked weird or came back abnormal, we'd pay the local lab to test the water.
The tests that I've done so far have given results that are in line with what we were expecting. The local lab gives some directions that I followed when pulling my water samples. They include the following:
1) Use cold water only.
2) For the bacteria test: let your water run for 5 minutes before you take a sample. Don't take a sample from a swivel faucet (commonly found in kitchens). They told me that it's best to take the water sample from the bathroom faucet or tub.
3) For the lead test: Take your sample at a point where the water has been sitting in the pipes for at least 6 hours. They recommended first thing in the morning, before flushing the toilets, etc.
The instructions included with the test kit were fine, but I would have appreciated something a bit more in depth, like those provided by our local lab. Still, this test is a fraction of what the local lab charges, and at least from what I can see, it appears to be fairly accurate."
How to Test for Nitrate in Your Drinking Water
Call your county health department and first ask IF they offer this testing. Often they will provide the testing in a control setting IF you do your part and deliver the water test within a reasonable time frame. They should be able to advise you what that time frame is and exactly what chemicals they will test for and the cost of the testing. The test cost in my area is $22 - cheaper and more comprehensive than what I could do with a home kit.
The water quality testing is a requirement by the EPA and the brochure from my county details they test for two things: 1.) bacteria and 2.) nitrites. The recommendation is an annual test in the spring or fall.
If you have a water softener service, check with your service company - often they will provide the testing for you as well.
If you have a streak of independence, home test kits are available online and at your local hardware store. When checking the major drug stores, sadly at this time no home drinking water tests were available either in the store or online. As the testimonial to the right reveals, this customer would have preferred a more comprehensive test. I urge you to check with your county before you search for a kit online. Most county governments will have a PDF for you to download with the cost and a summary of the results they have found in their past testing.
The testimonial to the right details the step by the step the process and the many advantages and disadvantages of the home test.
Run the Water 3-5 Minutes
In almost all cases, you note a common step for the water testing is to you to run the water typically 3 minutes before you take your sample. Why must we do this to get a good sample? You need to get beyond the water in your home's corrosive piping system. Also, you should only use cold water in your test.
Diagram of Underground Aquafirs Serving Your Residential Well
Nitrates are Odorless and Colorless
Nitrates are odorless and colorless. When used in drinking water, we can most often smell and taste the chlorine, the nitrates, on the other hand, go completely undetected.
Because nitrates are an antimicrobial, they are often used in agriculture and in food preservation.
Nitrates have the possibility of blocking the absorption of oxygen and are particularly dangerous to children and the elderly and some animals including horses.
Well water is particularly susceptible to nitrates because of the heavy use of nitrates in the agriculture industry. Groundwater can travel across many miles due to the structure and ever changing structure of natural aqua firs. Regular testing of the well is often recommended and mandated.
It is absolutely critical to keep your drinking water free of excess nitrates.
NaNO3 = Sodium Nitrate
"Sodium nitrate is the chemical compound with the formula NaNO3. This salt, also known as Chile saltpeter or Peru saltpeter (due to the large deposits found in each country) to distinguish it from ordinary saltpeter, potassium nitrate, is a white solid which is very soluble in water. The mineral form is also known as nitratine, nitratite or soda niter.
Sodium nitrate may be used as a constituent of fertilizers, pyrotechnics and smoke bombs, glass and pottery enamels, as a food preservative and a solid rocket propellant. It has been mined extensively for these purposes."
Two Types of Sodium Nitrates and Sodium Nitrites
There are two different sodium nitrates. The text of the current description of each chemical is provided by Wikipedia to the right. Note one is inorganic, one is mined, one is with an ending "ite" and the other is "ate".
Here is what the Encyclopedia Brittania has to say about "nitrate":
nitrate, any member of either of two classes of compounds derived from nitric acid, HNO3. The salts of nitric acid are ionic compounds containing the nitrate ion, NO-3, and a positive ion, such as NH4+ in ammonium nitrate. E
Sodium nitrite is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula NaNO2. It is a white to slight yellowish crystalline powder that is very soluble in water and is hygroscopic. It is a useful precursor to a variety of organic compounds, such as pharmaceuticals, dyes, and pesticides, but it is probably best known as a food additive to prevent botulism.
Uses for Nitrates
- Food Preservatives*
- Sewage Treatment
- Glass Enamels
- Pottery Enamels
- Pyrotechnics (aka the art of fireworks)
*(Sodium nitrate also has antimicrobial properties, hence its use in food preservation)
Nitrate and Nitrite and Celery Seed
The simple way for me to remember which is which, I look a the "ate" as a mined substance and something I can "eat" therefore, "ate" is appropriate in my mindset.
The "ite" is the inorganic version or the the man-made nitrate.
Celery seed is said to contain high amounts of natural "nitrates".
If you see a label on cured meats that says no "nitrites", it simply means no man-made chemicals. In order to be a cured meat, it must contain "nitrate", often nitrate is delivered in the form of celery seed.
Remember - Food Processing Chemicals Are Not Disclosed
Sadly, we have no label requirements telling us what is used in food processing.
We learned this first in ammonia in beef. The food processing chemicals, I feel are just as important as the ingredients.
This new information that has been out since 2007 about nitrites causing cancer reaffirms my belief that the United State's food labels need to be revamped. The fact that Applewood took it upon themselves to detail the no nitrites showcases the food industry can do something. The USDA did change the levels of nitrates but if you note the public is not privy to the amount of nitrate in each package.
Level of Nitrate Not Disclosed
Wouldn't you like to know the level of nitrates you are consuming? They are measuring it and regulating the level but the label is not required to tell us.
How are we as consumers supposed to make knowledgeable choices?
Share Your Thoughts
Do you look at cured meats differently now?
Test Your Home Water for Nitrates and Other Chemicals
Testing is relatively easy and can be done via a kit or through your local health department.
A point of use sanitizer can provide the purest drinking water available. If you are in the country and have a well, a POU ozonator can assist greatly in the quality of your families drinking water.
Food and Water - Health Essentials
Food and water are health essentials and yet even today we are lacking the needed disclosure to make intelligent and informed decisions.
Food labels in the United States need a major revamping not just for portion size and for calories but also for the diseases that harm our lives.
Imagine if we could make better decisions about what we eat, imagine if we could avoid Cancer, imagine not losing a loved one to Cancer, imagine what a wonderful world it could be.
Speak up - your opinion counts. I just read a sign that stated if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.