Sodium Nitrite and Caramel Flavour

Hi everyone, Hope all of you are great and safe. I am currently developing a premix for a cured meat, and we try to include the liquild caramel flavour in the premix. While when we finish mixing the premix, it looks pale and white which is quite what we want. But after night the whole premix turn yellow and has a pungent smell… Which is a sign that the nitrite broken down and it’s high chance that it was reacted with the caramel flavour. Do any of the expert here understand the chemistry behind it or any solution for the premix? Would be appreciated for any answers:) Thanks!

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To totally understand the phenomenon you are experiencing with your curing mix.please tell us what ingredients are inside it including caramel flavor and nitrite.
BTW May I know the reason you are adding caramel flavor in the curing premix?


Hi Roy, Thanks for the reply. Except for these two ingredients, the other stuff are basically salt and sugar and starch. I did an isolated experiment and found out the caramel flavour actually react with the nitrite gradually and that result in the yellowish final product and slightly unpleasant pungent smell. The reason why we add in is that we want the final meat product to have kind of sweet and caramel flavour. I try to lookup to see if there is any suspicious component in the natural caramel that might react with the nitrite but couldn’t have a clue…


Caramel flavor normally is just concentrated flavoring of caramel and solvent ,usually propylene glycol…May I know the components of your caramel flavor as declared in the label…?
Maybe there is something different in it that causes the reaction.?

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Hi Roy, thanks for replying. You’re quite right, the caramel flavour we used is actually Propylene Glycol and water based flavours (As solvent). Other substance that has been mentioned is the ascorbic acid as antioxidant. So it’s highly unlikely those would react with the nitrite isn’t it?

Not sure it would be one of the situation… I used to hear a senior in meat industry said liquid smoke and nitrite can’t be added together as the nitrite would be “broken down”. Tried to do some research online but had no luck :slight_smile:

[quote=“zhicong.kang, post:5, topic:11788, full:true”]Other substance that has been mentioned is the ascorbic acid as antioxidant. So it’s highly unlikely those would react with the nitrite isn’t it?

Hi @zhicong.kang
If it contains ascorbic acid then its an accelerant for the nitrite reaction causing the NaNO2 to release HNO2 which had a disagreeable odor ( nitrogen oxides release reaction which goes this way where its oxiduzes in air in this reaction…NO + 1/2O2 ----> NO2 which can cause brownish yellow ( xanthoproteic reaction) in the presence of even just traces of protein. .


Hi Roy, I want to thank you so much for the information and idea. This actually very make sense to our current stage and I would look for more information based on the knowledge you shared. Appreciate for the help you are amazing :grinning: :grinning: :grinning:

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