Sausage, corned beef and other processed meat products have been found to contain a preservative residue in levels above World Health Organization recommended levels.
A study by the Food Science and Technology Department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) establishes, high nitrite levels in meat products.
Salts in the form of sodium and potassium nitrite, are used in meat products as a preservative, antioxidant and colour fixative.
High levels, however, can pose risk to human health due to the formation of substances known as nitroso compounds.
For the study, 300 questionnaires were given to all categories of ages in Ayawaso West Sub metro of the Greater Accra Region, to fill out the 24-hour food frequency questionnaire.
Fifty samples of different types and brands of processed meat products were randomly selected and analysed for nitrite residues.
The researchers found an average 139.85mg of nitrite per kilogram of meat in samples, above 125mg per kilogram recommended by the WHO.
Dr. Jacob Agbenorhevi
The researchers again found the average daily consumption to be 114.89mg/kg per day which also exceeds recommended daily intake.
“It’s something alarming, the population is at risk because nitrite on certain levels can cause cancer,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Jacob Agbenorhevi.
“People know the right thing but because of certain circumstances, they abuse it. It’s important we monitor the nitrite levels of processed meat on the market, if they don’t meet the standards we get them out,” Dr. Agbenorhevi recommended.