Are Nitrates In Your Food Bad For You?
It seems like every week there’s a new food issue people are concerned about. One minute experts are warning people about high fructose corn syrup, and the next they’re talking about the dangers of fat in food.
Recently more people have been worried about nitrates in food. Some people may think that concern over nitrates in food is relatively recent, but debates over its presence in consumables have been around since the 1970’s.
Before you can understand the recent nitrate controversy, you need to take a quick science lesson.
The difference between nitrites and nitrates.
Some people use the words nitrites and nitrates interchangeably, but they’re both different compounds.
Both nitrites and nitrates are naturally occurring inorganic compounds made up of nitrogen and oxygen. The key difference is that nitrates have three oxygen molecules, and nitrites only have two.
Nitrates are so common that they’re naturally found in soil, water, and air. They’re also incredibly versatile compounds.
Nitrates are used in a variety of foods. They can be used for coloring food, and are widely used for preserving cured meats and dairy products.
They’re also used for industrial purposes. You can find nitrates in explosives, fertilizer, and even some kinds of glass enamels.
It isn’t very uncommon for certain compounds to be used for human consumption and industrial purposes. But there’s something about nitrates and nitrites that make them dangerous.
A volatile reaction
Nitrates don’t pose much of a health risk to animals, it’s when they’re converted into nitrites that things change.
Nitrates are stable compounds, nitrites aren’t. Once nitrates are converted into nitrites, it can turn into nitric oxide or nitrosamine. Both forms of nitrites have carcinogenic properties and are linked to a variety of other health problems.
Nitrosamines only form in a specific environment, they must be near amino acids and in high heat. Unfortunately, many popular cured meats are cooked under these conditions.
Since nitrates in food are such a controversial topic, some people may wonder how something that could be dangerous to humans is safely processed.
If you want to understand the rampant use of nitrates in food, you need to think about one of America’s most popular treats.
Consider the hot dog
Like many nitrate-heavy foods, hot dogs are a quintessentially American food. They’re very popular, simple to prepare, and inexpensive to manufacture and buy. You’ll find them at nearly every sporting event or BBQ, and cut up on nearly every child’s plate.
Despite the hot dog’s popularity, it is one of the worst foods you can put into your body. If you want an example of an unhealthy level of nitrates in food, look no further than the hot dog.
Nitrates are an important part of the average hot dog. Unlike some meats, it’s very difficult to process them without the use of nitrates.
There’s nothing wrong with the hot dogs themselves. After all, it’s just meat and bread. The real problem is the way that they’re processed with nitrates.
Nitrates allow the hot dog meat to keep its pink color and prevent it from spoiling too fast. Without nitrates, it wouldn’t be possible to process and ship them the way our society does.
Nitrates in food is the new normal
Nitrates have become an essential part of the preservation process, and effect most meats they way they do hot dogs. Nitrates are also incredibly cheap. Using them is the easiest way to keep up with meat demand in the country.
Almost every kind of meat you eat, regardless of if it’s cured, has been treated with nitrates. If nitrates were only in one kind of food it would be simple, but they’re in nearly everything.
High levels of nitrates can be found in popular fruits and vegetables. Naturally occurring nitrates in vegetables aren’t cause for concern, but synthetic nitrates are.
Nitrates are popular additives in fertilizers. Fruits and vegetables that are grown in nitrate-heavy soil can easily pick up excess compounds. Nitrates are so present in food that some companies rely on using other additives to counteract their harmful effects.
Many people don’t know this, but hot dogs are processed with vitamin C (although most companies will list it as ascorbic acid on their labels) as a way to counteract the powerful nitrates.
It may be comforting to some that companies try to mitigate the damage nitrate loaded food can cause. But others that are concerned about their health are going to want to cut as many nitrate-heavy foods out of their diet as possible.
If you’re ready to change the way you eat and live a healthier life, make sure you follow these tips.
Cut down on meat
Meat has earned a very prominent place in the American diet and it has very staunch defenders. Some people can’t imagine cutting down on meat, but if they’re concerned about nitrates in food they’ll have to learn how to live without it. There’s no denying that there is a link between certain cancers and meat consumption.
In 2015 22 scientists in 10 countries published a report that linked red and processed meat to cancer. Many scientists believe that meat’s cancer causing properties come from the way it’s processed and preserved.
That study may be worrisome, but nobody is saying that meat is inherently bad. Lean meat can be very high in protein, and red meat can give you essential B-vitamins. The real problem is the amount of meat most people eat.
A report by the World Health Organization found that the average American will eat 270.7 pounds of meat every year. That means that some Americans are almost eating their weight in meat annually.
If you can’t bear the thought of completely cutting meat out of your diet, you don’t have to. Meat doesn’t have to be the entree, it doesn’t even have to make an appearance on your plate. You can get all of the vitamins and minerals you need with fruits, vegetables, grain, and dairy.
Read labels (carefully)
People that want to avoid nitrates in food should become avid label readers when they’re shopping.
Today most companies aren’t simply going to list “nitrate” as an ingredient. There are plenty of “industry” terms they can use to make products look more appealing to health-conscious consumers.
If you pick up something and see “potassium nitrate” or “sodium nitrate” on the label, set it back down.
Also be sure to pay close attention to the nitrate’s position on the label. If it’s one of the first few ingredients, that food has more nitrate than you want to eat.
We’ve already talked about how some food manufacturers will label foods to downplay their amount of nitrite.
If you want to play it very safe, you should consider only buying organic products. Organic foods can’t be produced with synthetic nitrates and nitrites, which could significantly cut down on health risks from the compound.
It’s also important to note that if you’re concerned about nitrates in food that you should be weary of the “natural” label.
Natural foods are nothing more than an advertising ploy. Many natural foods can be loaded with harmful chemicals and additives. USDA certified organic foods need to meet strict standards, and you won’t find “creative” labels that downplay the presence of harmful ingredients.
Load up on antioxidants
Sometimes nitrates in food are unavoidable. You may have to occasionally eat nitrates, but there is something you can do that can help fight against its harmful effects.
We mentioned before that antioxidants like vitamin C can help lessen the dangerous effects of broken down nitrates.
Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants if you want to avoid the harmful effects of nitrates in food. Antioxidants can help keep nitrates from breaking down into nitrides and other dangerous compounds. Antioxidants also have a variety of other health benefits.
Go beyond food
If you’re worried about how nitrates in food can affect your health, you should be concerned about them in other parts of your life.
We mentioned before that nitrates can be found in nature and in industrial products. Since nitrates are popular preservatives, some cosmetics companies will use them in make-up, lotions, and skin care products.
Because of its wide use in fertilizers, nitrates are being found in a surprising amount of local water reservoirs. The water you use to bathe and cook could be loaded with dangerous nitrates.
If you want to ensure that you aren’t bombarded with nitrates, take action. A water filter answers the question of how you can keep your water clean. They can remove harmful nitrates and make it safe to drink and use.
Read cosmetics labels carefully, and consider using organic products.
No doubt about it
As far as most scientists are concerned the debate over nitrates is over. There’s an undeniable link between nitrate-heavy foods and cancer, people that want to lead healthy lifestyles should avoid them as much as possible.
Nitrates aren’t the only dangerous additives in foods. People are concerned about artificial colors, phosphates, and other chemical compounds.
Tell us about what you do to avoid harmful additives and eat clean and stay healthy.
SMH Sim Lab Trains Healthcare Workers To Handle COVID-19
Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab is Game Changer in Training Healthcare Workers to Handle COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis
Surrey Hospitals Foundation Investing $100,000 in New Simulation Technology
The Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) Simulation Lab has been credited as a “game changer” in helping train healthcare workers to better handle COVID-19 pandemic crisis situations.
The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is investing another $100,000 for new simulation technologies for the SMH Simulation Lab, contributing a total of $1.3 million including seed funding since 2015.
The SMH simulation Lab is one of two regional simulation centres supporting the Fraser Health region. It is a partnership between Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine.
“Our Simulation Lab has been very successful in training and preparing healthcare workers in various emergency situations and ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it has been instrumental in helping frontline hospital staff handle crisis situations,” says Lisa Ewart, Clinical Practice Consultant and Simulation Program Lead in Fraser Health.
“In addition, our Simulation Lab has facilitated and identified ongoing improvements in healthcare procedures, especially related to COVID-19, that has been adopted and implemented across the region.”
Between March and June 2020 alone, the SMH Simulation Lab has conducted 217 COVID-19 process simulations and trained over 900 hospital staff, using scenarios that were developed based on current pandemic guidelines from the Emergency Operations Committee.
These simulations occurred in emergency, intensive care, cardiac care, medical/surgical cohort units, COVID-19 testing centers and involved interdisciplinary participation.
The SMH Simulation Lab allows learners to practice high risk, low-frequency procedures – such as trauma from a car accident, or how to care for a patient in a pandemic – in a safe, risk-free environment.
Simulation encourages team training, by building on teamwork and communication skills, identifying roles or practicing use of protocols during a crisis or code blue situations.
The Simulation Lab supports healthcare workers, hospital staff, students, social workers, lab technicians and other learning groups such as community first responders.
Pediatric Emergency Department Simulation Practice
The Simulation Lab also takes part in the Surrey Hospital Foundation’s Mini Med School Education Program which gives high school students an opportunity to explore a variety of medical specialties with small-group workshops with physicians and technicians.
Interesting facts about the Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab:
- 3 high tech rooms, 2 debrief rooms, 3 skill rooms, 1 virtual reality surgical simulation room.
- Pediatric simulations to support pediatric emergency department, child health centre and pediatric psychiatry.
- In 2020 alone, the SIM Lab completed more than 2,400 hours of simulation education and more than 800 simulation sessions compared to 401 hours and 153 sessions in 2016.
- The pediatric mannequins that were bought in 2020 have been used in more than 60 simulations sessions and over 110 hours of clinical training.
- The adult mannequins from 2015 have had 17,000 compressions, been ventilated 2,400 times and been shocked 700 times.
“Our Foundation provided the seed funding when the SIM lab was first launched in 2015, and we are proud to continue supporting this crucially important education program to help improve the quality of our healthcare and health outcomes of our patients,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation.
About Surrey Hospitals Foundation:
Surrey Hospitals Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities.
The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors.
The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs.
BC Government Announces Additional AstraZeneca Vaccines Available At 20 London Drugs Locations In The Lower Mainland
London Drugs Opens Online Appointment Booking System for those Aged 55 to 65
London Drugs will open up online appointment booking after the province has announced limited additional supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Starting at 12:45 p.m. (PST) on Monday April 5, those aged 55 to 65 can visit the online booking system at LondonDrugs.com/covid19 and follow the prompts to find available appointments.
2200 doses will be distributed amongst 20 London Drugs locations in the Lower Mainland before the end of day Monday April 5 with additional supply expected in the coming weeks.
“With the overwhelming demand, we are happy to see the government now accelerating the distribution of the vaccine through our pharmacies,” said Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy at London Drugs.
Patients will now be able to join a waitlist on a first-come-first-serve basis so that when vaccine inventory is depleted, they will be notified when more appointments become available.
Patients on the waitlist will also be notified if there are “no shows” to previously booked appointments. Everyone wanting an appointment must go through the same online booking system.
“We are doing everything we can to quickly respond to changing vaccine supply and help the government ensure a widespread, easily accessible and equitable vaccination campaign as we do every year for flu,” said Chiew. “Thank you to our customers and patients for their patience. And to our pharmacy staff for their early efforts in what will be one of the largest public immunizations efforts ever undertaken in the province.”
For months, London Drugs pharmacists have been assisting with the Province’s vaccination efforts by administering the COVID vaccine on-site at various assisted living facilities and hospitals in B.C. to help speed up delivery to those most at-risk.
AstraZeneca Vaccines will be available for eligible British Columbians aged 55-65 at the following locations:
About London Drugs
Founded in 1945, B.C.-based London Drugs sells to every province and territory in Canada through its online store www.LondonDrugs.com and has 81 physical stores in more than 35 major markets throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
London Drugs offers consumers a range of products from personal protection equipment for pandemic safety, to digital cameras and cosmetics to computers and televisions. Renowned for its creative approach to retailing, the company employs more than 9000 people with pharmacy and health care services being the heart of its business.
Committed to innovation and superior customer service, London Drugs has established itself as a reputable and caring Canadian company that supports Canadian brands and continues to position itself for future growth and development.
Mayor Doug McCallum Urges Everyone To Do Their Part And Get Vaccinated When Turn Comes Up
Surrey, BC – Mayor Doug McCallum is asking everyone to get vaccinated when their turn comes up. Eligibility to book an appointment in Mayor McCallum’s age bracket came into effect yesterday. The Mayor promptly went online and scheduled an appointment for his immunization shot, which he received this afternoon.
“The light in this long tunnel that we have been travelling in is getting brighter everyday. We can get there sooner if everyone gets vaccinated when it is their turn. I can assure you that booking an appointment was easy and fast through Fraser Health’s online process and that the shot I received today was done safely, quickly and virtually pain-free. Let’s stamp out COVID. Book your immunization shot as soon as your turn comes up.”
The City of Surrey is supporting Fraser Health’s mass immunization clinics by offering space at three Recreation Centres. Eligible residents can book vaccination appointments beginning March 29 for clinics at Cloverdale Recreation Centre and South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre. Fraser Health is planning to open a third Surrey clinic at Guildford Recreation Centre and a date will be announced soon.
Visit fraserhealth.ca/vaccine to learn more or to book a COVID vaccination appointment.
3 Surrey Recreation Centres To Serve As Mass Immunization Clinics For Fraser Health Authority
Surrey, BC – In support of Fraser Health Authority’s (FHA) COVID-19 vaccination rollout, gymnasiums at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre, and Guildford Recreation Centre will serve as sites for mass immunization clinics.
“As vaccine distribution is set to ramp up, the City is proud to do its part in supporting Fraser Health’s safe vaccination rollout by offering the gymnasium space at these three civic facilities,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Vaccinating over 600,000 residents is no small feat, but we are confident that by offering these large distribution centres, everyone who wants to be immunized will have access to one near their home.”
Eligible residents can currently book vaccination appointments for clinics within Surrey at both the Cloverdale Recreation Centre and South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre. FHA is planning to open a third clinic in Surrey at Guildford Recreation Centre and a date will be announced soon.
Each site will include a drop-off location for immunization appointments, and residents are encouraged to take public transit when possible. Free parking is available.
Eligible residents can book vaccination appointments by visiting fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebooking or by calling the Fraser Health vaccination appointment line at 1-855-755-2455, which is available 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please call only when it’s your turn.
Recreational programming will continue at these facilities utilizing separate entrances, and City staff are working to minimize programming disruptions.
Find the latest information on COVID-19 on the City’s social media channels at www.surrey.ca/Covid19.
A Proudly Canadian Solution to Canada’s Chronic Drug and Vaccine Shortages
Ensuring Canadians have access to the medications they need means supporting Canadian manufacturers, says London Drugs.
The pandemic has highlighted a glaring weakness in Canadian healthcare: reoccurring shortages of essential drugs and vaccines.
London Drugs says it is important to work now to find solutions to drug and vaccine supply. As the company prepares to join Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, it is pledging support to Canadian pharmaceutical manufacturers to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers and improve domestic supply of essential medicines and vaccines.
“There is a proudly Canadian solution to the medication and vaccine shortages: supporting domestic drug manufacturers,” says Clint Mahlman, President and COO, London Drugs.
“It’s the right thing to do for our pharmacy patients, for the industry and for the country.” An overwhelming majority of Canadians agree.
A recent survey among members of the online Angus Reid Forum found due to the pandemic, 96 per cent of Canadians feel that it is important to have a strong domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing presence.
Drug shortages have been a challenge for Canada’s pharmacies for many years including epipens and other treatments. The result of longstanding global supply chain issues, shortages can have a real impact on the health of Canadians. Domestic manufacturing may offer a long-term solution.
London Drugs has a long history of supporting local Canadian products and Canadian suppliers. Proudly Canadian signage in stores and online make it easier for customers to find locally made products. Consistent with its commitment to supporting local, in April 2020, London Drugs offered up shelf space in stores to local small businesses who had to close their doors due to COVID-19; the ‘Local Central’ initiative raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Canadian small businesses.
With respect to drug and vaccine shortages, London Drugs is in continuous discussions with Apotex Inc., and other Canadian manufacturers on this issue.
Apotex, Canada’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer says that its fully integrated manufacturing facilities underscore the importance of having a domestic manufacturing capability.
“We have the ability to adjust our manufacturing and distribution in order to meet urgent government and patient needs,” says Raymond Shelley, SVP Commercial Operations- Canadian & Caribbean, Apotex.
In April 2020, the world saw a growing demand of hydroxychloroquine. Apotex shifted its priorities by scaling up production to manufacture more hydroxychloroquine to meet the increased demand. Being its home market, Canadians were the first priority before product was shipped to other markets.
“With support from other Canadian companies like London Drugs, we can help make Canada self-sufficient by ensuring a stable, secure supply of medication and bring new drugs to market,” says Shelley. “That not only means better care for Canadians, but also thousands of new, high-quality, highly skilled jobs.”
*According to StatsCan, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Canada employs approximately 30,000 people. With an increased pharmaceutical manufacturing presence, Canadians will see a direct economic impact through a growth in employment opportunities.
“As a Canadian owned and operated company, we understand the importance of supporting Canadian businesses. And given the option, we would want more domestic suppliers helping to keep our pharmacies stocked – ensuring our patients get the crucial medications and vaccines when they need it,” says Mahlman.
– View All Events –