Most of us know that traditional deli products like ham, bacon, and sandwich meats contain the preservative sodium nitrite or nitrate. And most of us have learned that these chemicals do not promote health but are associated with an increased cancer risk when used to cure processed meats.
There’s a trend in the food industry to brand deli meats with the claim “Natural”, but they still contain nitrites in the form of celery. These claims are misleading because nitrites taken from celery (celery extract, celery juice, celery powder) produce the same N-nitroso compounds in the meat as Sodium Nitrite.
A CBC Marketplace investigation revealed that food companies labelling of products can be misleading claiming “no added preservatives,” or “no added nitrites”, when in fact cultured celery extract is added. Marketplace tested the products that contain celery extract in a lab and discovered that the natural-sounding extract is actually a nitrite. “For all intents and purposes celery extract is bio-chemically identical to Sodium Nitrite. ” said nutrition expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff.
In addition to celery extracts containing nitrites, celery is increasingly becoming a more common allergen. Serious allergic reactions to celery happen most often after ingestion of raw celery but can also occur from foods containing processed celery roots, powder and juice. Celery is used as a cheap spicing ingredient in many processed foods such as spice mixtures, soups, broths and salad dressings. Allergy to celery is associated with allergies to birch pollen and mugwort pollen.