A Novel and Safer Replacement for Nitrite in Processed Meats

Tirosh Oren, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition




Nitrite Replacement, NAC SNO, Processed Meat

Current development stage

General list: TRL4 Technology validated in lab     


Collaboration Opportunity

Licensing of Technology

Sodium nitrite is used in the meat industry as: 1) A bacteriostatic agent against the growth of Clostridium botulinum, 2) A generator of pigment to give meat a pinkish-red color, and 3) A stabilizer of lipid oxidation and flavor. In 2018 the world-wide market for food products containing nitrite was USD 1.1 billion[1]. At the end of 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned consumers that in processed meat nitrite reacts with amines creating N-nitrosamines (N-NA) which are considered carcinogenic to humans[2]. Furthermore, nitrite is an environmental toxin and can cause methemoglobinemia[3] and death in children.

Our Innovation

Our researchers have proven in scientific articles that NAC-SNO (S-nitroso-N-acetylcysteine) is a much better and healthier preservative compared to nitrite.  NAC-SNO:

Has 99% fewer N-nitrosamines in processed meat and during stomach digestion[1].

  • Has 99% fewer N-nitrosamines in processed meat and during stomach digestion[1].
  • Provides better antioxidant protection7.
  • Provides better pigment generation6.
  • Preserves the flavor, color, texture and nutrient profile better than nitrite (Figure 4)6,[2]
  • Food with it will likely contain less sodium since NAC-SNO will need less/no salt in the meat compared with those that contain nitrite.
  • Is an effective anti-clostridia compound also in chilled-products without the need for pre-heating (Figure 2).


NAC-SNO is a water soluble compound molecule based on natural amino acid (not a xenobiotic) that can easily be prepared at a low cost. NAC-SNO can be added to meat products instead of nitrite-salt mixtures by the same technology used to date in the industry. NAC SNO has a better antimicrobial property and could also be used in products that do not need heating.









Two scientific paper have been published:

Patents have been filed in a wide range of countries for using NAC-SNO in food, WO 2019/026073, and Yissum is looking for commercial partners to bring this revolutionary technology to market.


 [1] https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/food-and-beverages-color-fixing-agents-market

 [2] https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr240_E.pdf

 [3] Vet Ital. Apr-Jun 2008;44(2):439-53

 [4] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp204-c3.pdf

 [5] https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=172.175

 [6] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jafc.8b04549

 [7] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.9b03741

Contact for more information:

Ilya Pittel
Contact ME:
All projects by:Tirosh Oren (3)