Nitrites authorized in our food… are prohibited in pet food. For what ?

Nitrites authorized in our food… are prohibited in pet food.  For what ?

Soon banned in food for dogs and cats, but still present in cold meats sold in supermarkets, nitrites are accused of promoting the appearance of cancer. But why should animals be better protected than humans on this subject?

Nitrites will no longer be included in the composition of dog and cat food. The discreet decision taken by the European Union was revealed on December 18 by The Parisian. Problem: this decision was published on June 15, 2023, in an implementing regulation, at the very time when European deputies were calling for this same withdrawal in hams, bacon and cold meats sold in Europe. In the products we consume.

What’s the problem with these nitrites?

Sodium nitrites, or E250, allow food manufacturers to obtain better preservation and a better appearance of cold meats. According to them, the additive helps fight listeriosis or botulism. But if this product creates controversy, it is because it is not harmless: the International Cancer Center (IARC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have already demonstrated that nitrites were linked to the formation of cancers, particularly colorectal.

Inserm also mentions an association with a risk of type 2 diabetes. Note, however, that the thresholds in our consumer products were lowered last October precisely in the name of the fight against cancer. Lowered but not banned.

Too bad for dogs, not bad enough for humans?

How can we explain this difference in decisions between the health of our animals and our own health? Are nitrites really more harmful to dogs than to us?

Veterinarians point out a reality: there is indeed a question of dose at stake. Indeed, if nitrites are present in kibbles as in cold meats, there are few humans who only eat nitrites. On the other hand, cats and dogs feed almost exclusively on preparations made by manufacturers. At high doses (and with less weight) nitrites cause “methemoglobinemia: the blood no longer carries iron”, confirmed Géraldine Blanchard, veterinary specialist in nutrition, with our colleagues at 20 minutes. It is on this argument that Brussels relied.

Pressure from lobbyists, for MP Richard Ramos

But this does not explain why there are double standards, for Richard Ramos, LREM deputy for Loiret, involved in the issue of nitrites for years.

The lobbyists managed to ensure that it was not banned.” he reacted on December 18 on Europe Info.

According to him, there are many lobbies in Brussels, but very few are interested in the issue of animal feed. “The European Union has just said it’s banned, we no longer have the right to give it to dogs and cats because it kills. They relied on the same scientists. It’s an aberration.” he recalls in the media listing the studies carried out independently by Anses or the Circ.

An alert that he doubled with a strong gesture: last week the MP delivered to Emmanuel Macron a packet of nitrite-free kibble for Nemo, his dog. With a message: “Help me ensure that eventually humans are equal to our pets.”

NO to diets, YES to WW!

The European Commission puts forward another explanation

For its part, the European Commission disputes the MP’s assertion and assures that the ban on nitrites for animals comes from the producers themselves. In 2021, they would have withdrawn their request under the category of “technological additives” and “preservatives”, even though the re-evaluation of this additive had been underway for several years.