Bird Nest Nitrite, Is It Safe?
On 15th August 2011 some province in China were repoted that edible bird nest contains high nitrite. Again, there are many rumors speculating regarding this matter and cause many traders, operators and even consumers confused and concerned. Then the question is, what is nitrite and is it harmful? how to avoid this substance if consumers concern about this substance and want to consume this delicacy food. Many information actually describes what nitrite is. Here is just short summary of what nitrite is.
Nitrites are a normal part of human diet, found in most vegetables.Spinach and lettuce can have as high as 2500 mg/Kg nitrate, curly kale (302.0 mg/kg) and green cauliflower (61.0 mg/kg), to a low of 13 mg/Kg for asparagus. Nitrite levels in 34 vegetable samples, including different varieties of cabbage, lettuce, spinach, parsley and turnips ranged between 1.1 and 57 mg/Kg, e.g. white cauliflower (3.49 mg/kg) and green cauliflower (1.47 mg/kg). Boiling vegetables lowers nitrate but not nitrite. Fresh meat contains 0.4-0.5 mg/Kg nitrite and 4–7 mg/Kg of nitrate (10–30 mg/Kg nitrate in cured meats).The presence of nitrite in animal tissue is a consequence of metabolism of nitric oxide, an important neurotransmitter. Nitric oxide can be created de novo from nitric oxide synthaseutilizing arginine or from ingested nitrate or nitrite. Most all research on negative effects of Nitrites on humans predates discovery of nitric oxide‘s importance to human metabolism and human endogenous metabolism of nitrite.
Recently, sodium nitrite has been found to be an effective means to increase blood flow by dilating blood vessels, acting as a vasodilator. Research is ongoing to investigate its applicability towards treatments for sickle cell anemia, cyanide poisoning, heart attacks, brain aneurysms, and pulmonary hypertension in infants.. An intravenous mixture including sodium nitrite solution has been used as an emergency treatment for cyanide poisoning (see Cyanide#Antidote).
There are raised concern that sodium nitrite is the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines if it is exposed under high temperature. But, two scientific reports from the National Academy of Sciences (issued in 1981 and 1982). The 1981 report stated that nitrite does not cause cancer, although some population studies have found an association between high exposure to nitrite levels and certain cancers. Also, nitrite does not act directly as a cancer-causing agent in animals. The NAS recommended that both these issues be researched further.
Based on facets presented, Nitrite can occur in our daily meals and it is not so harmful as long as it keeps it under certain amount. Although sometimes we can find even higher than the regulations standard in our normal meals such as lectuce. But these all can be avoided as long as our meals are well prepared. Nitrites are very soluable in water. People would normally wash their food before they cook as a result it keeps the nitrates down to consumable level nonetheless.
In recent issues, many consumers of bird nest concern this matter. Well, it is actually unnecessary. on 20th July 2011 One of stores in Hangzhou province in China has answered to that concern and has conducted a test by the Zhejiang Institute of science and technology. The report shows that the nitrate contents on BLOOD NEST only 2.5mg/kg and WHITE NEST 1.2mg/kg after being preparely served and stewed. (soak bird nest for 5-6 hours and change the water every hour). This report and the fact shows that there is significant reduce on nitrites level to a consumable level (max 30mg/kg WHO rules and regulations). This certainly will NOT bring harm.
Apart from negative impact on nitrites, consumers must not forget that there are many advantages and many substances in edible bird nest that improves human health. The glycoprotein in edible bird nest considerably to be very effective in boosting human immune. There are still some further study ongoing in bird nest related to its chemical compound and substance. Some study says they found an enzym that helps cell regeneration.
In conclusion, there are many substances in one food product. Good or bad depends on the perspective of the people. As long as it follows under a certain level according to the food rules and regulations. It can be consumable. A KNOWLEDGE on how to prepare a meal is absolutely necessary in this matter. The stores also hold responsible to give their consumer information on how to prepare their products before being consumed. Regardless negative issues on edible bird nest there are many advantages that can be obtained by having this delicacy that have been in chinese people for hundred years.