Ask Matt Caputo: Clarification on Nitrates in Meat

dsc_1493“Ask Matt Caputo” is a new, ongoing feature where Matt answers commonly asked questions from the market. This week, he clarifies a few misconceptions about nitrates.

Q: I’ve heard that I should avoid nitrates in food, but I noticed that some of Caputo’s meats don’t claim to be nitrate-free. Why not? Are nitrates really that bad for me?

A: Many of our meats are nitrate free, but that doesn’t mean they are any better for you. Even all the “uncured” salami out there uses nitrates—even if it’s not on the label. Nitrates can come from natural sources, such as celery powder, rosemary extract, etc. These natural sources of nitrates convert in your gut to nitrites just like sodium nitrate from pink curing salt. However, they can be listed as “natural flavorings,” even though they contribute nitrate, not flavor. 

Unlike pink salt, these “natural flavorings” and the exact amount of nitrates are not regulated by the USDA or FDA, unfortunately. So in unlabeled salami, the actual dosage of nitrates you are getting is often much, much higher than if you just ate the stuff with sodium nitrate listed on the label. The key is balance. Eat some fresh veggies with a few bites of salami and cheese, and you’ll be fine. Everything in moderation! 

Disclaimer: While Matt Caputo is a Certified Cheese Professional and specialty food fanatic, he is not a medical professional, doctor, or certified nutritionist. Please consult with your doctor or other qualified health care professional before making any healthcare decisions, diagnostics or treatment decisions based on Matt’s answers.

One reply on “Ask Matt Caputo: Clarification on Nitrates in Meat

  • Valerie Frederick

    I’ve shopped Caputos in SLC and liked it. We in the Chicago Suburbs have two Caputos chains. Angelo Caputos and Joe Caputos. I really like shopping in our area because of so many ethnic stores, we have it all. I suppose comparable to NYC.

    While living in taylorsville I called the Italian grocers I knew of to see who had escarole for a specials soup I wanted to make for my brother-in-law for Christmas Eve. (He’s a Philadephia Italian. Not one person, probably 3, even knew what Escorole was. I was amazed.

    Gotta get out there and show these bozos some diversity in their diets guys! But I still like your store!

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