Cultured Celery Extract is a concentrate prepared from celery. The extracts come in powder or liquid and are commonly used as a food preservative in “natural” deli meats instead of chemical nitrites because celery extracts are nitrites. The truth therefore, is that celery extracts are not that natural. Nitrites are found naturally in sea salt and in many vegetables like spinach, beets and celery. But unlike ingesting small amounts of nitrites that occur in vegetables, celery extracts are created in a lab when a concentrated version of the plant’s juice is combined with bacterial cultures.
The celery concentrate is then used as a preservative because it extends shelf life and mimics the same effects as chemical nitrites. Products that contain concentrated vegetable extracts can have as much or more nitrites than foods that list sodium nitrite on their label. In addition, celery is listed among “the dirty dozen;” a group of produce that test high for concentrated pesticides and other chemicals you shouldn’t consume unless ORGANIC. Shopping for quality healthy foods can be difficult especially when looking for prepared or processed food options that have multiple ingredients. But it’s even more difficult when the customer has to decipher how to interpret claims on product packaging. For example, many companies that use celery extract use the claim “Preservative-Free” on their packaging. This can be misleading if you are trying to avoid nitrites. The best way to avoid confusing claims is to read the actual ingredients. If you see an ingredient and you don’t know what it is, or why it’s been added to your food, you should be able to contact the company directly to find out. Mclean Meats is a small Canadian company of family and friends with a mission: to produce clean food products that nourish the body while supporting natural, humane and sustainable farming. Contact us anytime with your questions. We want to hear from you.