Names such as "Beef pups," "uncured pork strips," "uncured sausage with salami flavoring added" will become part of history on Sept. 20. That's when nitrite-free processed meats will no longer have to be called by such fanciful names. Instead, according to a new Department of Agriculture regulation, they will be permitted to use the common or usual name of similar products cured with sodium nitrite use.
So beef pups will become "uncured hot dogs," the pork strips will be UNCURED bacon" and the sausage with salami flavoring added will be "uncured salami."
According to Ellen Haas of Community Nutrition Institute, this regulation will give all nitrite free products easier access to the market and will make it less difficult "to measure consumer acceptance."
In addition Haas said, the regulation is important for small business people who "have been hassled by USDA" when they tried to get approval to market nitrite-free meats.
One small processor in Iowa, Ray Kennedy, has spent six or seven years fighting with USDA over marketing of a product he wanted to call Bakon. Pleas to his congressman and senator, a foot-high file of correspondence with USDA attest to his problem and several others like it.
More recently a California meat processor was unable to get USDA approval for his products though a state laboratory had certified them as perfectly safe.
All that should change with the new regulation which will require nitrite-free products to carry the following statement as part of the product name: "Uncured (product)," "No Nitrate or Nitrite Added."
In addition, if there is no alternative method of curing, such as canning, pickling or drying, the label must also carry the warning: "Not Preserved -- Keep Refrigerated Below 40 Degrees Fahrenheit At All Times."
According to Assistant Agriculture Secretary Carol Foreman, "The department will have available a consumer information publication on how to handle nitrite-free meats safely and is producing public service television and radio announcements with a similar message."
A free copy of a publication on handling nitrite-free meats is available by writing to: U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSQS Publications, Washington, D.C. 20250.