Food Safety

At Maple Leaf, our commitment to you is that we will do everything we can to make our products safe for you and your family. Just as we take precautions to ensure our products are safe, we encourage you to take precautions while preparing, cooking, and storing food which is your family’s best defense against foodborne illness.

Nitrate & Nitrite

What You Should Know About Nitrate, Nitrite And A Healthy Balanced Diet

Nitrate and nitrite are naturally-occurring molecules that are everywhere in our environment. Green leafy vegetables, beets and radishes contain the highest levels of nitrate. The nitrate in vegetables, cheese, cured meats, and even our drinking water, are naturally converted into nitrite and nitric oxide in our bodies.

According to health experts and many research studies, nitrite and nitric oxide are essential for a healthy metabolism as they:

  • Signal arteries to relax and expand
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Protect against heart attack and stroke
  • Signal immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer cells
  • Signal brain cells to communicate with each other
  • Reduce asthma symptoms
  • Regulate insulin signalling and secretion

Nitrate/nitrite is found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and other foods. Actually over 90% of our dietary intake is from foods other than prepared meats. For example, you’d have to eat 120 slices of Natural Selections cured meats to equal the amount in a single stalk of celery.

Nitrate and nitrite in cured meats

To safeguard Canadians, Health Canada requires that nitrate and nitrite be used in certain cured meats to protect against the growth of harmful spore-forming bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum. Nitrite can be added to meat products in two ways: either through sodium nitrite, which is synthetically produced, or through a natural source like cultured celery extract. Either way, they provide the same important food safety benefits.

Cured meats can be part of a healthy balanced diet. They are an important convenient source of protein, iron and minerals.

We spent four years developing these products and they are very different from our conventional products. We removed the following synthetically produced preservatives and ingredients:

  • sodium nitrite;
  • sodium phosphate;
  • sodium diacetate;
  • potassium lactate; and
  • sodium erythorbate.

We added natural ingredients, such as:

  • lemon juice;
  • sea salt;
  • vinegar; and
  • vegetable-based ingredients, such as cultured celery extract.

These are premium products. We removed artificial preservatives and replaced them with natural ingredients. We only use the finest cuts of meat. These products are among the very best tasting sliced meats in the market.

How do our bodies get nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide?

Vegetables such as beets, celery, lettuce, radishes and spinach contribute about 85-90% of our dietary intake of nitrate. In our mouths, good bacteria react with nitrate to produce nitrite and provide approximately 50% of the body’s nitric oxide. The highest levels of nitrite are found in colostrum - the breast milk produced immediately after birth. This is nature’s way of supplementing the production of essential nitric oxide to keep babies healthy.

Nitrate and Nitrite Levels in Foods1

Items Nitrate (mg/100g) Nitrite (mg/100g)
Spinach 741.0 0.02
Musterd greens 116.0 0.003
Salad mix 82.1 0.13
Coleslaw 55.9 0.07
Broccoli 39.5 0.07
Tomato 39.2 0.03
Carrots 0.1 0.006
Banana 4.5 0.009
Fruit mix 0.9 0.08
Orange 0.8 0.02
Meats/prepared meats
Hot dog 9.0 0.05
Bacon 5.5 0.38
Pork tenderloin 3.3 0
Ham 0.9 0.89

1 The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution: How to Boost the Body’s Miracle Molecule to Prevent and Reverse Chronic Disease by Nathan S. Bryan, PhD and Janet Zand, OMD with Bill Gottlieb.(opens a new window)  Published in 2010 by Neogenis.

Cultured celery extract is cultured to produce nitrite through a process similar to adding bacterial culture to milk to produce yogurt. In combination with vinegar, lemon juice and sea salt, cultured celery extract is a natural preservative that plays an important role in food safety. For more information about these products, please read our product brochure.

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

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Information for Dietitians

Information for Dietitians

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