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This is interesting

British stores could be flooded with “dangerous” bacon and ham from the US, marketed under misleading labels, as the result of a transatlantic trade deal, says the author of a new book based on a decade of investigation into the food industry.

The meat has been cured with nitrites extracted from vegetables, a practice not permitted by the European Commission because of evidence that it increases the risk of bowel cancer. But it is allowed in the US, where the product is often labelled as “all natural”. The powerful US meat industry is likely to insist that the export of nitrite-cured meat is a condition of a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal, which the UK government is under intense pressure to deliver.

Sodium Nitrate (and thus nitrite) is what cures meat. It does indeed provide the pink colour but it also stops botulism. Fairly important that, stopping botulism.

It used to be that people complained about “additives”. Unnatural things that were added to our food. To, you know, stop it poisoning us. Today the complaint is about steeping food in vegetable juice to stop it poisoning us.

It’s possible to start thinking that for some people there’s just a level of complaining that must happen. Solve the problem of sabre toothed tigers and they’ll moan instead about the terrors of hair braiding. Life just must be accompanied by a certain level of whingeing…..

You know, don’t shag the au pair – these days an equal opportunities adventure – and the same grief will be ladled out over the manner of the washing of the coffee cups.

33 thoughts on “This is interesting”

  1. It must be fake news because who would believe the US would export bacon? They need it all for themselves. I still remember Bacon week at Central Market. Bacon (even the very rare back bacon), bacon cakes, bacon bowls (yes the bowl is made of bacon) and more and more bacon.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Sodium nitrate is sold as organic natural fertilizer. As, indeed, it was so used. It is often called Chilean saltpeter because it was imported from Chile as fertilizer back in the day before Haber.

    I am not sure what the Organic Society’s rules are but they used to be that any toxic chemical could be used (such as Bordeaux mixture which is lime and copper sulphate I think from memory) as long as they were used before some arbitrary cut off date in the mid-19th century.

    Sodium Nitrate would qualify. So organic it is.

  3. Adolff – quite.

    Are progressives still pretending to do “evidence-based” policy or is that racistsexisthomophobic now?

    evidence that it increases the risk of bowel cancer.

    Bowel cancer incidence according to World Cancer Research Fund:

    Rank Country Age-standardised rate per 100,000
    1 Hungary 51.2
    2 South Korea 44.5
    3 Slovakia 43.8
    4 Norway 42.9
    5 Slovenia 41.1
    6 Denmark 41.0
    6 Portugal 40.0
    8= Barbados 38.9
    8= Japan 38.9
    10 Netherlands 37.8
    11 Australia 36.9
    12 Singapore 36.8
    13 Serbia 36.7
    14= Belgium 35.3
    14= New Zealand 35.3
    16= Uruguay 35.0
    16= Brunei 35.0
    18 Moldova 34.2
    19 Croatia 34.1
    20 Ireland 34.0
    21 Spain 33.4
    22 Latvia 33.0
    23 Czech Republic 32.7
    24 UK 32.1
    25 Belarus 31.8

    Not featured in the top 25: the USA.

  4. I used to follow the Australian youtube channel Gregg’s Kitchen and the bacon there seemed odd. It seemed ready cooked, all gray. The problem with many bacons is that once on the frying pan there’s suddenly a gallon of water.

  5. “Organic” NaNO2 = inorganic NaNO2. There is *NO* chemical difference, so no difference in its action on the body.

  6. This doesn’t pass the commonsense test
    In the most litigious nation on the planet would anyone produce/sell a product that is allegedly so carcinogenic?

  7. >There is *NO* chemical difference
    If you refined it to 100% chemical purity, which is often impractical, expensive or impossible.

    The EU contends that trace substances remain after refining sodium nitrate, and that the substances that remain when refining it from plants using methods America is okay with are carcinogenic.

    This is testable.

  8. “It’s possible to start thinking that for some people there’s just a level of complaining that must happen. Solve the problem of sabre toothed tigers and they’ll moan instead about the terrors of hair braiding. Life just must be accompanied by a certain level of whingeing…..”

    But maybe we all come into the world with a perception of what’s normal, what’s right, what’s not, and over time, we notice that much of the shit gets dealt with. Like cars are so much better than in the 70s. Super reliable and safe and will do 150K without falling apart. You can get a good espresso everywhere. A pair of jeans is cheap. Bank robbery, apartheid and the Berlin Wall (and communism elsewhere) has gone. Phone calls are astonishingly cheap, computers are almost free. Flights are cheap. Hotel rooms are cheap. Spectacles are no longer hideous NHS specs for the kids.

    This is a much better world than I ever imagined. And I guess to my grandparents in the 1960s and 1970s, with central heating, no wars, no fascism, not death in childhood, they perhaps felt the same.

  9. Jussi – “The problem with many bacons is that once on the frying pan there’s suddenly a gallon of water.”

    I’ve noticed this too. Was this always so, or is bacon is pumped full of water these days similar to chicken?

  10. The journalist who wrote this nonsense, Harriet Sherwood, used to be the Jerusalem correspondent for the Guardian. Is this a coincidence of some strange sort? Did her sojourn there turn her into a bacon bigot?

    Mind you, couldn’t the real author think of a better way of spending 10 years than investigating the food industry? Why not try learning Akkadian or training to be a tattooist?

  11. is bacon is pumped full of water these days

    Practically everything in the meat line is pumped full of water. A couple of days ago I cooked a ham hock (pig’s knuckle) and the label rather surprisingly admitted “with added water”. With bacon the only way of avoiding the pan flood is to buy traditional dry-cured bacon from a proper butcher.

  12. I won’t be buying bacon from the US simply because it’s bloody awful.

    Oddly, I enjoy it when I’m over there – but then it’s on top of a pile of pancakes and smothered in maple syrup. I wouldn’t consider buying it in preference to the good stuff from my butcher.

  13. “With bacon the only way of avoiding the pan flood is to buy traditional dry-cured bacon from a proper butcher.”
    The village shop sells some good bacon supplied by a local butcher, it does however come vacuum packed and is, as opened, wet. Re-wrapped in grease-proof paper and left in the fridge a few days dries it out nicely.

  14. Sodium nitrate has E number E251. It is approved for use in the EU.

    It has been used since Roman times as a food preservative.

    Not forgetting: the main reason for these scare stories is ‘protectionism’ for UK/EU agriculture. Others like environmentalists, vegans, obesity Gestapo, et al will opportunistically climb aboard the bandwagon under the Bootleggers & Baptists principle.

  15. Bacon in the US is always styled ‘Canadian bacon’ which corresponds to UK streaky bacon. I never saw back bacon in the US, which is a cut I have not seen outside UK & Ireland.

  16. The solution is simple: ban import from America anything containing any substance that California says causes cancer. The Americans cannot complain of a trade barrier as we’re using their own standards.

  17. @ Charles
    That’s a bit difficult: di-hydrogen monoxide was shown to cause cancer in rats when applied in high dosage.

  18. There’s a theory being advanced above I’ve believed for years. Everyone has their own permanent level of worry. So if one cause is removed, they just replace it with another. So you’re always going to find someone “deeply concerned” about something because the “something” is the result of someone’s search for something to worry about. Seems to work. The naturally carefree never seem to worry about anything even if there’s genuine cause.
    Question is, is it possible to change a person’s rest state? I’ve rarely seen any sign of it.

  19. During bacon week we got back bacon which had been made in Chicago, branded as Irish-style. It wasn’t there at any other time. The US bacon never gave us a problem with water or mush in the pan and after a while we got to like it. Not the kind you get served to you in cheap breakfast joints, grilled until crisp and as pleasant to eat as old brake shoes,but the better cures fried at home.

  20. @Charles
    Even breathing the air here is known to cause cancer.
    Proposition 65 warning:
    Reading this post could cause eye or brain cancer.

  21. ” Charles
    February 14, 2021 at 3:14 pm”

    You want to use the laughingstock of the US as your standard setter?

    We don’t pay attention to CA. And Prop 67 warnings are solely a CA thing.

  22. Bloke in California

    The California Prop 65 warnings are so ubiquitous nobody pays any attention to them. Cars have them, buildings have them, you can’t avoid the bloody things. It’s become a racket for screwing manufacturers with regulation and licensing costs.

  23. bloke in spain said:
    “Everyone has their own permanent level of worry”

    Sounds right.

    The flip side is that everyone has their own level of risk that they’re comfortable with. Wasn’t there a study that making drivers wear seatbelts caused more accidents, because if you made them feel safer in one way, they would just (subconsciously) take bigger risks in other ways, until their overall risk level felt about the same as before?

  24. I read a book decades ago about how the cancer industry uses the ‘No Linear Threshold’ model to scare people and ban stuff they don’t like and came up with my own analogy of how it works:
    If a 14lb bowling ball is dropped onto your head from 6 feet it will do some damage. Ergo, if you drop a 2.7g ping pong ball on your head from 6 feet it too, will do some damage.

    To quote the traditional English response to this, “It’s all a load of bollocks”.

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