I’ve seen on the intertubes that uncured bacon which claims to have no nitrites really does, because some kind of celery extract is used that contains the same nitrites as the, I guess, industrial stuff that goes into Oscar Mayer or what have you. What’s the Straight Dope? Would this bacon be nitrATE free? How bad are these chemicals anyway?
Many veggies have naturally occuring nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by the body. It was once thought that these are not harmful, but the latest I’ve read is that they have the same effect as other nitrites.http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4914598_do-nitrates-food-do-body.html
Wait… are you saying that vegetables are bad for you because of the nitrates? Or do you mean when mixed with meat, which is known to be harmful, contributing to the heart disease risk associated with red meat (uncured red meat has no risk, or at least a much lower risk compared to not eating it at all); I’d try to avoid eating any meat that isn’t just meat, as indicated under ingredients (it should only list whatever meat it is, or if seasoned, no nitrates or nitrate sources like celery extract).
That said, there is also no reason why they NEED to use nitrates/nitrites (or just regular salt), especially in canned/prepackaged food, since if it is precooked and sealed it shouldn’t spoil (many people think the excessive salt in canned food in general is to preserve it). They do add vitamin C or related compounds to offset some of the harmful properties of nitrates (nitrosamine formation), but apparently that isn’t quite enough unless there is some other reason why processed meat raises the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes (though I have read that just overcooking can create harmful compounds; this is true for other foods as well, such as starches converting to acrylamide).
Veggies, on the whole, are good for you, but they do contain nitrates, which are bad for you.