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What To Know About Nitrates, Nitrites, and MSG in Jerky

What To Know About Nitrates, Nitrites, and MSG in Jerky

Jerky is actually a superfood that contains massive health benefits and very few downsides such as calories. However, many people worry about eating jerky because they think it contains a few bad ingredients. This isn’t the full truth, and learning what to know about nitrates, nitrites, and MSG in jerky can lessen your fears.


Sodium nitrates are popular ingredients in a lot of dried food, as they preserve the food. However, nitrates aren’t found only in dried food; a lot of vegetables contain sodium nitrates, too, making up about 80% of your nitrate intake. Although people believe nitrates are unhealthy, they don’t cause any issues if you eat a safe amount, and the amount in beef jerky is well below dangerous levels.


Sodium nitrite is a different kind of salt than sodium nitrate. Typically, sodium nitrites are put in foods to keep their color, but that isn’t important to jerky, as color preservation isn’t as big a deal for meat. Although nitrates are a bit more dangerous, they still occur naturally in almost every diet without causing problems. Yet again, it’s all about the amount you consume, as small doses won’t hurt you.


Most people know monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a horrible ingredient that’ll cause permanent damage in the body. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. MSG is a popular seasoning that many Asian countries have used for centuries without massive health issues. MSG’s reputation comes from multiple misinformation campaigns with the goal of hurting Asian restaurants. Sadly, the information spread and bad studies backed it up, so even today, people believe MSG is bad for them. MSG is just like any other form of sodium: bad if you eat it in large amounts but fine in smaller doses. If you’re still worried about MSG in your handcrafted jerky, don’t be: jerky contains little, if any, MSG.

All three of these ingredients, which you can find naturally in many vegetables, are safe for moderate consumption. This is why it’s so important to recognize what to know about nitrates, nitrates, and MSG in jerky.

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