Just Say Not to Nitrites

Look closely at the ingredients on the package of your favorite brand of hot dog or salami. If sodium nitrite, or its cousin sodium nitrate, is listed, you might want to consider another brand.

Sodium nitrite is a curing agent that is responsible for the pinkish color of some of the most popular meats: bacon, salami, hotdogs, bologna, etc. It is also a preservative that helps prevent the formation of botulism, a virulent form of food poisoning. But now that we have refrigerators to keep our meats fresh, the reason for this highly suspect curing agent seems less compelling to many, particularly given the risks.

A study at the University of Hawaii found a 67 percent increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer among people who eat large amounts of processed meats. Numerous other studies have shown a connection between the consumption of hotdogs and leukemia, brain tumors and miscarriages.

We don't need nitrites. Do as Norway has done: ban them from your home. If you can't give up hotdogs and bacon, go for the organic or specialty items that contain no nitrites.

- Larissa Phillips