Nitrite salts (also known as sodium nitrite) have traditionally been used to cure cooked meat products and fine paste sausages. However labelling of these salts as E250 is now negatively perceived by consumers, meaning that a clean label (non-E-number) alterative could be welcomed by industry and consumers. In addition, some recent studies have cast a shadow of doubt over the safe use of nitrites in meats. Danisco's new cultures are known as Texel NatuRed HT (high temperature) and LT (low temperature). The former is staphylococcus carnosus, and the latter is staphylococcus carnosus combined with staphylococcus carnosus vitulinus. A spokesperson for Danisco Cultures told FoodNavigator.com that choice between the two depends on the production process used. But the LT version is of particular interest since it is efficient from 4 degrees Celsius. The spokesperson claimed that colour development at such a low temperature has not been seen in the market before. Moreover Caroline de Lamarlière, European food protection meat industry manager, pointed out that use of the cultures to make cooked meats with an appealing and stable colour does not require investment in new utilities or changes to processing conditions. The company says it has conducted laboratory tests in which hams treated with the cultures and a nitrate source from vegetable developed a similar colour intensity to those produced with equivalent quantities of nitrite salt and sodium ascorbate. The two cultures fall under the umbrella of Care4U, Danisco's new food protection label unveiled this week and which, like Texel NatuRed, be formally launched at FIE in London next week. As for the studies that put a question mark over nitrites' safety, scientists reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (15 April 2007, Volume 175, Pages 798-804) earlier this year that consuming more than 14 or more cured meat products per month was associated with a 93 per cent increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The nitrite content of cured meat has been proposed to be behind the observations. Some concerns have also been raised by scientists about the formation of carcinogenic N-nutrisamines when it reacts with amino acids in the presence of heat and in an acidic environment. The European Food Safety Authority is in the process of reviewing all food additives that have previously been approved for use in the bloc. Its first target is food colourings.