The occurrence of volatile and non-volatile N‐nitrosamines in cured meat products from the Danish market

A.A. Niklas*, S.S. Herrmann, M. Pedersen, M. Jakobsen, L. Duedahl-Olesen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Several epidemiological studies emphasize the consumption of processed meat products as a risk factor of colorectal cancer, linking N-nitrosamines (NAs) formed during nitrite curing to this cancer risk. The occurrence of volatile N-nitrosamines (VNAs) has over the years been intensively studied while the knowledge on the occurrence and toxicity of non-volatile N-nitrosamines (NVNAs) is still limited. Therefore, this study focuses on quantification of both VNAs and NVNAs in a large selection of processed meat products. For this purpose, a robust, specific and sensitive method allowing analysis of seven VNAs and two NVNAs was optimized and validated using kassler, sausage, and salami. The limit of quantification achieved was 0.1 - 0.5 ng·g-1 for most of the VNA, and 2.3 - 4.2 ng·g-1 for the NVNA. In one hundred commercial samples N-nitroso-thiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (NTCA) was the most frequently detected (97 samples) among all target NAs and it was found at concentrations ranging from 3.1 ng·g-1 to 1660 ng·g-1. The samples contained relatively low mean levels of the individual VNAs (≤1 ng·g-1). The levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-nitrosopyrrolidine (NPYR), and N-nitrosopiperidine (NPIP) ranged from non-detectable to 3.8, 10.8 and 2.9 ng·g-1, respectively. A correlation between the detected residual levels of nitrite and/or nitrate and concentrations of individual NAs could not be demonstrated. Based on principle component analysis (PCA) some correlations between salami, sausage and bacon and NAs could be shown.
Original languageEnglish
Article number132046
JournalFood Chemistry
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Volatile N-nitrosamines
  • Non-volatile N-nitrosamines
  • Processed meat
  • Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry
  • Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization
  • Electro spray ionisation


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