Deciphering Deli Meats

by in Food Safety, Grocery Shopping, November 17, 2011
deli salami
What should you look for, and how much should you buy?

Not all foods at the deli are created equal. Check out some healthier and safer options to order up next time you’re at the counter.

Be In The Know
Not all deli “meats” are straight from the cow (so to speak). Here’s the breakdown on where all the deli goodies come from.

  • Whole cuts: A part of the meat or poultry is cooked and sometimes flavored with spices, sugar or salt. It’s then sliced and sold by the pound. These cuts tend to be pricier.
  • Sections and formed meat products: Parts of meats or poultry are “glued” together to create a single, larger piece (like cooked ham). These are typically cheaper than whole cuts.
  • Processed meat (or sausages): These include liverwurst, bologna, knockwurst, salami and other such products. The meat can come from pork, poultry, beef, mutton and veal. Byproducts like heart, kidney, liver, lips and pork stomach are often tossed into the mix.

Buyer Beware
Deli meats have been linked to bacteria called listeria. About 85 percent of those diagnosed with listeria monocytogenes (the illness caused by the bacteria listeria) have been traced back to deli meat or cold cuts. This illness affects the very young and very old. It can also cause pregnant women to have a miscarriage in the third trimester. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises folks to reheat deli meats to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to destroy any listeria that may be lurking. They also suggest discarding open packages of deli meat after 5 days. If the deli meat was freshly sliced at the counter, then keep it for no more than 3 days from purchase.

Moderate Additives
Sodium nitrite is added to most deli meats to help add color and flavor and to prevent the growth of bacteria. During processing this chemical is converted into cancer-causing nitrosamines, which has been linked to cancer of the mouth, bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain. The addition of vitamin A and vitamin E to these products can help prevent the formation of the cancer-causing nitrosamines. So check the label before purchasing. Nitrite-free products are also available, but be warned that they won’t be as bright and shiny in color (those nitrites really make deli meats look good!).

Choose Wisely
If you’re in the mood for deli fare, choose leaner meats like turkey, chicken breast, and lean cuts of roast beef or ham. Low-sodium options are often available, so be sure to ask. Order enough so that it can only last for a few days– remember, you don’t want to store deli meat longer than 3 days. This will keep both food safety and your waistline under control.

Check out some other smart choices at the deli counter.

TELL US: What do you order at the deli counter?

You Might Also Like:

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

Similar Posts

5 Kitchen Habits to Break (Let’s Get Some Food Safety Up in Here)

We often think those small bad habits in the kitchen are no big deal. But it’s the little things that can lead to food-borne illness. In honor...

Comments (1,449)

  1. Title…

    [...]please check out the sites we adhere to, like this one particular, as it represents our picks through the web[...]…

  2. Marko plots says:

    The Slave of the Husband…

    Looking for in advance to learning additional from you afterward!……

  3. When I first saw this title Deciphering Deli Meats | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog on google I just whent and bookmark it. Outstanding post, I believe people should learn a lot from this web blog its really user pleasant. So much great info on here .

  4. see says:

    Title…

    [...]the time to read or take a look at the subject material or sites we’ve linked to beneath the[...]…

  5. telefonsex says:

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[...]…

  6. mudras swarthiness lieges unamused obliged ycleped jinx colliery cation ouzels wharfage overpowering . sarcomata ostracized extracting consommes skinfuls nondescript diathermies dwelt

  7. Title…

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated information, nonetheless actually worth taking a appear, whoa did one particular find out about Mid East has got more problerms also [...]…

  8. Title…

    [...]usually posts some extremely intriguing stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]…

  9. Title…

    [...]very few web-sites that occur to become detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly worth checking out[...]…

  10. coltecit says:

    Title…

    [...]always a major fan of linking to bloggers that I like but really don’t get quite a bit of link love from[...]…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>