N-nitrosamines and residual nitrite in cured meats from the Dutch market

Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1986 Jan;182(1):14-8. doi: 10.1007/BF01079884.


A total of 140 samples of 16 kinds of cured meats were analyzed for contents of residual nitrite and N-nitrosamines. Nitrite was determined by reaction with sulfanilamide/naphthylethylenediamine and colorimetric measurement. N-nitrosamines were isolated from the samples by vacuum distillation and determined by gas-chromatography with chemiluminescence detection (GC-TEA). In six samples no nitrite was detectable (less than 1 mg NaNO2/kg), the remaining samples contained 1-140 mg NaNO2/kg, median value 6.8 mg/kg. In 46 samples (33%) no N-nitrosamines were detected, i.e. less than 0.1-0.5 microgram/kg of the individual nitrosamines, depending upon their structure. N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was the nitrosamine present most frequently, in 75 samples, contents were 0.1-0.9 microgram/kg, mean 0.3 microgram/kg. Other N-nitrosamines found were: N-nitrosopiperidine (NPIP), 10 times, 0.3-25 micrograms/kg; N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), three times, 0.2-0.9 microgram/kg; N-nitrosopyrrolidine (NPYR), three times, 1.3-4.2 micrograms/kg; N-nitrosomorpholine, once, 0.7 microgram/kg and N-nitrosothiazolidine (NTHZ), 36 times, 0.5-91 micrograms/kg, mean 5.7 micrograms/kg. NTHZ was found most often and with the highest contents in smoked products. Frying of bacon and cured, smoked pork bellies led to substantially increased levels of NPYR in both products, and for the pork bellies also of NTHZ. In five samples of cured, smoked pork bellies after frying NTHZ-contents of 3.6-490 micrograms/kg (mean 179) were found. No correlation between residual nitrite levels and N-nitrosamine contents could be established. Investigations during the nineteen seventies gave much higher levels for NDMA, NDEA, NPIP and NPYR in Dutch cured meats than now found; at that time NTHZ was not measured.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Netherlands
  • Nitrites / analysis*
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Swine


  • Nitrites
  • Nitrosamines