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Sodium nitrite

From Academic Kids

Sodium nitrite, with chemical formula NaNO2, also called nitrous acid, sodium salt, is used as a color fixative and preservative in meats and fish. It is also used in manufacturing diazo dyes, nitroso compounds, and other organic compounds; in dyeing and printing textile fabrics and bleaching fibers; in photography; as a laboratory reagent and a corrosion inhibitor; in metal coatings for phosphatizing and detinning; and in the manufacture of rubber chemicals. Sodium nitrite also has been used in human and veterinary medicine as a vasodilator, a bronchial dilator, an intestinal relaxant, and an antidote for cyanide poisoning.

Use as a food additive

As a food additive, it serves a dual purpose in the food industry since it both alters the color of preserved fish and meats and also prevents growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria which causes botulism.

While this chemical may prevent the growth of bacteria, it is dangerously similar in formula to sodium nitrate, a prime ingredient in explosives. Various dangers of using this chemical as a food additive have been suggested and researched by scientists. A principal concern is the formation of carcinogenic N-nitrosamines by reaction with sodium nitrite; other ingredients are often added to prevent nitrosamine-generating reactions.

A safer alternative to the bacteria issue would be to store meats and fish in freezers. CSPI's Food Safety (http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm).

See also

External links


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