Nitrite occurs as salt with potassium or sodium and is found in trace amounts in both plants and animals. Nitrate occurs naturally in plants such as fruits, vegetables and tobacco. Nitrate can be converted by bacteria into nitrite. Along with nicotine, Nitrite can form TSNA under unfavourable tobacco drying and storage conditions. Naturally occurring levels of nitrite in vegetables and grains is generally low. Nitrite is added to many food products, such as bacon, due to its preservative properties.
As discussed, one effect of nitrite is an increased cancer risk as a result of nitrosamine formation. Experiments show that nitrate/nitrite together with certain other substances in the diet causing nitrosamines, and that certain nitrosamines are carcinogens.
Swedish snus and foodstuffs
100 grams of broccoli contains 300 micrograms of nitrite, which corresponds to the content in 15 (x) 24 g cans of Swedish snus.
In Sweden, sodium and potassium nitrite are approved food additives according to the Swedish National Food Agency (http://www.slv.se/). Nitrite has had a limit in GOTHIATEK since the standard was introduced.