Nestle has said it is “revolutionising” France’s charcuterie market with the launch of what it claims is the first sodium nitrite-free cooked ham as part of an on-going drive for fewer additives in its products.

E250, a salt and anti-oxidant, has long been used to cure meats like ham, bacon and hot dogs and serves to block the growth of botulism-causing bacteria while also preventing spoilage.

However, at Nestle’s Herta subsidiary, the company has worked for five years on developing a new recipe and production method for its Le Bon Paris brand cooked ham that is “sodium nitrite-free … while guaranteeing total food safety”.

The new recipe cooked ham – available in three varieties – steamed, smoked and au torchon –  was launched on the French market yesterday, starting with a number of Carrefour outlets and will have a gradual roll-out across the supermarket channel in France over the next few months, a Herta spokesperson confirmed to just-food.

Depending on the response from customers, the recipe could be extended to other Herta products such as hot dog-type sausages and bacon, he added.