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Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
oxide myoglobin. Once the meat is heated, this is converted to color-stable nitrosyl hemochromogen due to the denaturation of myoglobin (Hedrick et al., 1994). Sodium nitrite also has the function (in combination with salt) of inhibiting the growth of Clostridium botulinum (Doyle et al., 2001). If sodium nitrite and salt were not used in certain processed meat and seafood products, especially those that are vacuum or modified-atmosphere packaged, these products could no longer be produced or handled because they would pose a risk of botulism outbreaks (Betts et al., 2007; Hedrick et al., 1994; Matthews and Strong, 2005). The final sodium-containing cure ingredients are reductants. Sodium ascorbate and sodium erythorbate are commonly used reductants that play a role in increasing the rate of color formation in cured meats. Both of these compounds can convert nitrite to nitric oxide and convert iron present in myoglobin to the form needed for color formation. Although the reduction of nitrite and myoglobin iron often occurs naturally, reductants can speed up this process (Hedrick et al., 1994). The other essential role of sodium ascorbate or erythorbate is to retard the formation of N-nitrosamines, carcinogenic compounds that can form from residual nitrite especially during high-temperature cooking (Doyle et al., 2001). Table 4-7 lists the sodium content of select muscle foods.
Salting also plays a role in the kosher processing for meats. All blood must be removed from the tissues for a meat or poultry product to be considered kosher. To achieve this, meat is soaked and then salted. While the salt is used only on the surface of the meat, some is still able to penetrate, leading to increased salt content (Curtis, 2005).