An investigation to establish the types and levels of non-volatile N-nitroso compounds (NOC) in UK consumed foods produced by fermentation

This study will sample a wide range of foodstuffs that will include; bacon, cheese, cured meat and fish, smoked (wood) meat and fish, beer, spices and soy sauce. The study will sample initially approximately 50 UK retail samples which will be analysed for N-nitroso compounds (NOC).
Study duration: December 2013 to December 2015
Project code: FS102076
Contractor: Premier Analytical Services (PAS)


The study is primarily concerned with NOC that potentially forms as a direct result of the food manufacturing process itself, eg preservation with nitrate/nitrite, smoking, drying, microbial processing and thermal processing.

NOC can be divided into two major chemical groups, namely nitrosamines and nitrosamides. Unlike nitrosamides, nitosamines are relatively stable chemical compounds that can be found as contaminants in the environment and in some processed foods.

Nitrosamines likely to be found in food include dialkylnitrosamines such as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), and cyclic nitrosamines, eg N-nitrosopyrrolidine (NPYR), N-nitrosopiperidine (NPIP) and N-nitrosothiazolidine (NTHZ).

Non-volatile nitrosamines (NVNA) also likely to be found in food, consisting mainly of N-nitrosated amino acids, such as N-nitroso products of sarcosine (NSAR), proline (NPRO) and thiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (NTCA).

Measurement of apparent total NOC (ATNC) while providing an indication of NOC contamination does not provide information on the type or level of each NOC that may be present in the foodstuff.

Research Approach

All sampled foods and beverages will be analysed for ATNC and where methodologies (current and developed) allow, the type and level of each NOC will be established.

The 50 foodstuffs as sold in the UK to be initially sampled and analysed to establish ATNC, type and level of NOC present will include:

  • bacon
  • cheese
  • cured meat and fish
  • smoked (wood) meat and fish
  • beer
  • spices
  • soy sauce