Danish biotechnology company Chr Hansen has launched a natural replacement to added nitrite in the US, called the Natural Cure, as a meat curing method designed to be more consumer friendly.

The replacement culture converts naturally occurring nitrates into nitrite and thus naturally cures the meat, a concept Hansen hopes can lure in the organic market especially.

However, the finished product is labelled as "uncured" in accordance with labelling regulations from the USDA, because nitrites and nitrates are not added.

Nitrite, which retards rancidity, stabilises flavour, and establishes meat's pink colour, is a common addition to cured meat.

But although studies and recommendations by health and governmental organisations ensure the safety of nitrite or nitrate cured meats, Hansen has said many consumers avoid products that list these ingredients on the label.

Chr Hansen regional industry manager for meat and prepared foods, Teresa Supnet-Rosa, said: "These natural ingredients offer the same functionality as traditional curing methods and provides consumers with a natural choice."