There has been much discussion in the press in recent years about the possible adverse health effects of nitrites and nitrates. Our position is that whilst these preservatives (which have been in use since Roman times) are harmful when taken in large quantities, there can still be a place for cured meats in a sensible and varied diet.

The attractive pink colour of hams is due to nitrites. A ham without nitrites, when cooked, would have the dull grey-brown colour of cooked pork. More importantly, nitrites are a vital part of our defence against some of the most dangerous food poisining bacteria that can cause serious problems such as botulism. We believe that nitrite-free ham or bacon is little more than salty pork.

There are some producers who claim to offer hams and bacon with "no added nitrites". We believe this to be disingenuous. One trick they may employ is to use celery, which naturally contains very high levels of nitrate, which can then be dried out and added to the meat during curing, and appearing on the label as "celery" or simply as "natural flavouring", when really it's just a way of sneaking the nitrates in through the back door. With Dukeshill, what you see on the label is what you get!