Animal Products

Depletion of Nitrite from Meat Curing Brines during Refrigerated Storage

  • Rongrong Liang (Iowa State University)
  • Joseph G. Sebranek (Iowa State University)
  • Rodrigo Tarte orcid logo (Iowa State University)


A meat curing brine typical of those used commercially for injecting pork bellies during processing of sliced bacon was prepared with all curing ingredients including salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite, as a control. Brines without erythorbate, without phosphates and without erythorbate and phosphates were also prepared at the same time to evaluate the effects of those ingredients on nitrite reactions in the brine. Residual nitrite and brine pH were measured after 0, 1, 2, 4, 6 and 9 days of storage at 0 °C – 2 °C. The control brine lost over 200 parts per million (ppm) (19.6%) of the nitrite within 24 hours, and over 300 ppm (31.6%) after 48 hours. The brine with erythorbate but without phosphates lost almost 300 ppm (27.7%) following formulation but did not change during storage. The brines without erythorbate and without erythorbate and phosphate each maintained nitrite concentrations without significant change for up to 9 days of storage. Consequently, the high concentration of curing ingredients necessary for injection brines of cured meats is likely to result in significant losses of nitrite relatively quickly even at refrigerated temperatures, depending on brine conditions and other ingredients. In general, injection brines for cured meats should be used as soon as possible following formulation to avoid potential nitrite losses prior to injection. Nitrite losses from the brine could result in reduced cured color stability in the finished product as well as loss of other cured meat quality characteristics expected from normal nitrite-based curing reactions.

How to Cite:

Liang, R., Sebranek, J. G. & Tarte, R., (2018) “Depletion of Nitrite from Meat Curing Brines during Refrigerated Storage”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 15(1). doi:

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Published on
01 Jan 2018
Peer Reviewed