Animal Products

Nitrite Reaction Rates with Substrates for Meat Curing in a Model System

  • Gary Sullivan (Iowa State University)
  • Joseph G. Sebranek (Iowa State University)


Because one of the alternative processes for production of natural or organic cured meat products utilizes a slow release of nitrite from nitrate to achieve the cure, the reaction rates of nitrite with myoglobin and cysteine in a model system were assessed to determine if the rate of addition of nitrite has potential to alter the end products produced by curing. This is potentially important for natural and organic cured meats because the end products of nitrite reactions determine cured meat properties including color and antimicrobial protection. Results of this study showed that myoglobin is preferentially nitrosylated by nitrite before cysteine. Once maximum nitrosylation of myoglobin was achieved, then nitrite reacted with cysteine as well. These results suggest that the amount of nitrite produced may affect end products of meat curing based on the substrates used in this study, but the rate of addition of nitrite is not important. Thus, for natural and organic curing achieved by the alternate process involving nitrate, it may be more important to increase the amount of nitrite produced from nitrate rather than increasing the rate of nitrite production. However, additional studies with other substrates involved with nitrite in meat curing should be conducted.

Keywords: ASL R2757

How to Cite:

Sullivan, G. & Sebranek, J. G., (2013) “Nitrite Reaction Rates with Substrates for Meat Curing in a Model System”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 10(1). doi:

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Published on
01 Jan 2013
Peer Reviewed