DAVAO CITY – A group of researchers from the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Mindanao) found that some skinless longganisa sold in Bankerohan Public Market here contain residual nitrite levels which are way below the minimum required amount for food safety.

Pork chorizo on display at Agdao Market, Davao City. ( Manila Bulletin / File / Keith Bacongco)

The study also showed that as the level of educational attainment of the vendor-processors in the study increased “the chemical hazard on the use of excessive nitrite may have been emphasized more compared to the consequences of its underapplication.”

“The study results demonstrated that all skinless longganisa samples gathered had residual nitrite levels ranging from 0.005–1.031 mg/kg, which is way below the minimum required amount of 50 mg/kg for the inhibition of Clostridium botulinum,” said Dr. Virginia P. Obsioma, Professor at the Department of Food Science and Chemistry, College of Science and Mathematics, UP Mindanao in an article published by the Department of Science and Technology on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

The study titled Linking Socio-demographics of Meat Vendor-processors to Residual Nitrite in Skinless Native Sausage Sold in a Typical Public Market in the Philippines was published in the Philippine Journal of Science Vol. 149, No. 4, in December 2020.

The study said the results “suggests the underapplication of nitrite at exceedingly low levels (only at most 2% of the recommended amount), compromising the microbial safety of the meat.”

“With extremely low nitrite levels, monitoring and training programs should highlight the importance of applying the recommended levels of nitrite in skinless longganisa as an essential food safety measure,” it said.

The researchers interviewed 30 skinless longganisa vendor-processors in Bankerohan Public Market, while “a total of 90 cured skinless longganisa packs weighing 120–320g per pack were collected” from them “at three times.”

In terms of their educational attainment, majority of the respondents were at least high school level and have over 14 years of experience in selling skinless longganisa.

The study also added that more than half of the participants have attended a meat processing training and seminar, and food safety training and seminar.

According to the study“based on personal communication with the food safety team, food safety seminars in the region stress the risks of excess nitrite application with minimal or no discussion of the dangers of very little nitrite application.”

“The vendor-processors who participated in the study could have been more exposed to information about the risk of using nitrites in meat,”it said.

The research said “there is a need to improve the food safety knowledge and practices of the skinless longganisa vendor-processors, specifically on the application of appropriate nitrite levels to ensure the safety of the processed meat.”

It said regular food safety seminars must be conducted and that the dangers of using nitrite in both low and high levels must be emphasized.

Nitrite is used in curing meat to give it color and flavor. The study explained that it is also used to “inhibit lipid oxidation that leads to rancidity and to control the growth of foodborne pathogens, especially Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium which causes botulism,” it said.

The World Health Organization said “foodborne botulism is a serious, potentially fatal disease” which can be prevented with good practice in food preparation.

But the research added that “due to the potential conversion of nitrite to carcinogens, safety concerns have been raised on its application throughout the years.”  

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/01/28/lack-in-knowledge-on-food-safety-linked-to-low-levels-of-nitrite-in-skinless-sausage-sold-in-davao-public-market/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lack-in-knowledge-on-food-safety-linked-to-low-levels-of-nitrite-in-skinless-sausage-sold-in-davao-public-market)