Meal Plan for Nitrate / Nitrite & Sulphur Dioxide Free Diet

Nitrates and nitrites, in particular sodium nitrite, are used for the curing of meat (e.g. bacon, ham and gammon) because they prevent bacterial growth and react with the meat protein giving the product a desirable dark red color. Because of the toxicity of nitrite (the lethal dose of nitrite for humans is about 22 mg per kg body weight), the maximum allowed nitrite concentration in meat products is 200 ppm. Under certain conditions, especially during cooking, nitrites in meat can react with degradation products of amino acids, forming nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.

Sulphur dioxide is sometimes used as a preservative for dried fruits due to its antimicrobial properties. It maintains the appearance of the fruit and prevents rotting, and can give fruit a distinctive chemical taste. It is also used in the making of wine and some other alcoholic drinks, and wine making sanitation to prevent degredation and microbial damage.

Check ingredient lists for the following:

  • E220 - Sulphur dioxide
  • E221 - Sodium sulphite
  • E222 - Sodium hydrogen sulphite/sodium bisulphite
  • E223 - Sodium metabisulphite
  • E224 - Sodium metabisulphide
  • E226 - Calcium sulphite
  • E227 - Calcium hydrogen sulphite/calcium bisulphite
  • E228 - Potassium bisulphite
  • E249 - Potassium nitrite
  • E250 - Sodium nitrite
  • E251 - Sodium nitrate
  • E252 - Potassium nitrate

Food sources of nitrates, nitrites or sulphur dioxide

  • Dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables
  • Fruit juices
  • Fruit based desserts
  • Wine, beer, cider
  • Biscuits
  • Bacon, ham, cured meats, corned beef, gammon steak
  • Some cheese

Not all of the above will contain nitrates, nitrites or sulphur dioxide, but definitely check these foods. Look out for products that state they are 'free from preservatives', but if in doubt, avoid.

Adhering to a healthy diet, avoiding processed and manufactured foods is the simplest way to avoid added preservatives. The following example meal plan has been designed to eliminate nitrates, nitrites, sulphur dioxide and other artificial preservatives from their diet. It's based on an average weight individual with a sedentary job for weight maintenance. Use this to give you an idea of what are healthy nutritious foods to include, but don't forget to vary your food choices and to drink plenty of water through the day.

High fibre cereal (like Weetabix, bran flakes, Shreddies, porridge, etc) + 200ml skimmed milk + 1 tsp sugar
No Allergy Fruit Smoothie
2 oatcakes
Drink water
Sandwich: 2 slices granary bread+ butter + slice off bone chicken or salmon
Mixed salad inc tbsp sunflower seeds
Low fat natural yoghurt (check) + pineapple chunks
Drink water
Handful mixed nuts
Drink water
Evening Meal
Large chicken breast or fillet white fish or lean red meat
Basmati rice or pasta or potatoes / sweet potatoes
Loads of veg or large salad
Drink water
2-3 oatcakes or rye crispbread with cottage cheese (check)
Item fruit
Drink water
Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.