A Hopeful Note On Use Of Bacon

Posted: November 30, 1986

Consumers soon may be able to bring home the bacon without worrying about the extra baggage of a potential cancer-causing compound often found in the cooked meat.

The encouraging news on the breakfast front comes as a result of recent action by the U.S. Agriculture Department. Earlier this month, the agency approved the use of a Vitamin E derivative that prevents the formation of nitrosamines, carcinogens that occur in bacon during cooking.

Whether food manufacturers will apply the vitamin-based substance, alpha tocopherol, to the popular breakfast food is unknown right now, but its very availability is a breakthrough that caps a decade of research into combating the cancer-causing agents.

Food scientists have long known that, when heated, sodium nitrite, a chemical used to preserve bacon and other processed meats, has a tendency to combine with other naturally occurring particles to form nitrosamines. Laboratory studies have found that animals fed high doses of nitrosamines developed cancer.

In fact, concern over the presence of nitrosamines in food and its link to cancer led USDA officials, during the late 1970s, to consider banning the use of sodium nitrite altogether.

During this period, research was launched to isolate compounds capable of inhibiting the formation of these carcinogens. The work, which culminated with the recent approval of alpha tocopherol, was conducted by Hoffman-La Roche Inc., with USDA supervision.

The Nutley, N.J., company has made this newest additive available to the food industry, and the substance can now be applied to the surface of the more than 1.5 billion pounds of bacon sold annually in the United States.

Additionally, the company plans further research into other areas where vitamin derivatives can be used to preserve food and inhibit potentially harmful substances.

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CHRISTMAS COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS ARE PART OF A CHADDS FORD TOUR.

A variety of Moravian Christmas cakes and love feast buns are among the treats being prepared in the beehive oven at the John Chad House for the Dec. 5 tour of historic sites. Mulled cider will be served around the bonfire at Washington's headquarters. The tour, scheduled from 5:30 to 10 p.m., is sponsored by the Chester County Historical Society, the Chadds Ford Historical Society and Brandywine Battlefield Park. Tickets for four sites are $6 for adults, $3 for children. For more information, call 692-4800.

SEASONAL COOKING CLASSES WILL BE HELD IN WILLOW GROVE.

Bloomingdale's Willow Grove store will conduct the free classes in its housewares department on the third floor. Cake decorating will be the theme for Wednesday's class; Hanukah dishes will be the subject on Dec. 10. Both classes will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations are not necessary.

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ASPARTAME GETS ANOTHER VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the controversial low-calorie sweetener aspartame in four more food and beverage groups, the NutraSweet Co. says. The FDA gave the go-ahead for aspartame,

marketed as NutraSweet, to be used for refrigerated juices in ready-to-drink,

concentrated and frozen packages; ready-to-eat frozen desserts on a stick; breath mints, and ready-to-drink teas in can or concentrated form. Also last week, the FDA rejected a claim from consumer lawyer James S. Turner that aspartame may cause seizures and should be banned from grocery shelves. Turner says he will appeal the agency's ruling through the FDA or the courts.

THE NATIONAL RETAIL BEEF-PRICE AVERAGE INCREASES SLIGHTLY.

According to the monthly survey of supermarket beef prices by the National Cattlemen's Association, the average price of five cuts of beef was $2.40 per pound on Nov. 13, compared with $2.39 in October. November's price was three cents lower than prices for November 1985. The association reported that the

average retail price remained steady because there was little fluctuation in wholesale prices. The average per-pound prices for November were ground beef, $1.29; round steak, $2.37; sirloin steak, $2.91; T-bone steak, $3.87, and chuck roast, $1.57.

CONSUMERS MAY SEE CHANGES IN PROCESSED MEATS.

Consumers could see leaner hot dogs, bologna and other cooked sausage products under a proposal to allow processors to use more water in their recipes, the Agriculture Department said. The proposal would allow processors to increase the amount of added water in cooked sausage products above the current limit of 10 percent. As a result, water would replace fat, thus lowering the fat content. Labels of meats prepared under the proposed rules would have to comply with the department's new labeling policy, which regulates use of the labeling terms "lite," "light," "leaner" and ''lower fat." Comments on the proposal can be sent by Jan. 23 to: USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Regulations Office, Attn: Linda Carey, Hearing Clerk, Room 3168-S, Washington, D.C. 20250.

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