Scan Magazine, Issue 111, April 2018

Page 70

Scan Magazine  |  Special Theme  |  Organic Food from Denmark

Hanegal = no nitrite, no tricks Fie Graugaard, co-founder of the Danish organic meat producer Hanegal, tells Scan Magazine why her company has become an advocate against the use of nitrites. Translation: Louise Older Steffensen  |  Photos: Hanegal

“Hanegal is 100 per cent organic and has been for the 25 years it’s been servicing the Danish nation,” Graugaard proudly declares. Most of Hanegal’s assortment is meat-based, and it includes just the kinds of cured meats and other treats that Danes know and love. Their consumers’ favourites are liver paté, salami, barbeque sausages and bacon, and vegan paté.

Organic for 25 years In 1992, Graugaard and her co-founder Ulrich Kern-Hansen decided that all their products should be produced without additives and with complete honesty regarding contents and ingredients – no nitrite, no dodgy additives. “Most conventional meat products in the shops contain an array of additives, including nitrite, which is carcinogenic,” Graugaard explains. “Organic food stuffs may contain fewer additives, but nitrite is still allowed in organic meat products according to the EU’s regulations on organic farming – but not at Hanegal!” 70  |  Issue 111  |  April 2018

Graugaard continues: “Nitrite’s link to cancer has been known about for ages. In modern food production with a cold chain lasting all the way from the farm to the consumer, we don’t need the preservative properties of nitrite. The risk of cancer is much greater today than the risk of botulism, which could have been a problem many years ago.”

Do lunch meats have to be bright pink? Today, food producers only use nitrite because it gives the meat a plump, pink colour. The meat industry is afraid to lose out on sales if their ham is not pink enough, but Hanegal has made it their mission to let consumers know that meat products are naturally a greyish-pink colour, that bologna sausage and bacon do not have to be bright pink to be healthy and highquality – quite the opposite, in fact. Once upon a time, almost all Danish Vienna sausages were bright red. Today, most people are aware that this is unnatural and that the red sausages are full

of food dye. “We want cured meats to go through that same process: bright pink salami and ham should send alarm bells ringing. Our children should not grow up believing that excessively pink meats are superior. There is absolutely no reason to make people ill for no reason.”

Meat Lobby – Big Business Against Health In 2016, Hanegal was contacted by Cash Investigation, a French television news show looking to make a documentary on nitrite. The only entirely nitrite-free food producer they could find was Denmark’s Hanegal. The subsequent documentary, which features Ulrich Kern-Hansen and Hanegal’s products, has been shown in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany. “We’ve been emboldened by the many consumers who’ve contacted us to voice their support of our fight against the unnecessary use of carcinogenic nitrite since its launch,” Graugaard adds. The documentary, Meat Lobby – Big Business Against Health has been translated into English and German and is available on YouTube. Web:

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