27 August 1997
MAFF dispels nitrates-in-sausages fears

THE Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) aimed to diffuse fears about nitrate levels in cured meats, including sausages, after a 58-year-old man collapsed when he ate 10 sausages in 20 minutes. He recovered quickly after his blood pressure, which had plummeted, rose again.

Dr Justin Stebbin, from St Georges Hospital, London, wrote in the Postgraduate Medical Journal that nitrate levels in some sausages could kill if eaten in sufficient quantities, displacing oxygen in the blood.

MAFF said wide margins were set for the safety limits and a person would have to eat several kilograms of foods containing nitrates to be ill.

Most British sausages are said to use ascorbic acid rather than nitrates as a preservative.

  • The Times 27/08/97 page 4
  • The Guardian 27/08/97 page 9