E250 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU) and used as an antibacterial synthetic preservative in food products, as well as a colour fixative. It is specifically effective at inhibiting the bolulism-causing bacteria, clostridium botulinum.
The common name for E250 is sodium nitrite.
E250 is the sodium salt of nitrous acid. It can be oxidised in air to form sodium nitrate – a useful reducing agent.
E250 (sodium nitrite) has been known to cause hyperactivity and is restricted in many countries. Once in the stomach, nitrates can form nitrosamines, which are thought to be carcinogens.
Recent research has indicated that E250 might cause dilation of blood vessels, hence it might therefore have positive applications in the treatment of heart attacks, pulmonary hypertension and sickle cell anaemia.
Examples of food and drink products that sometimes include E250:
- meat (smoked, cured and processed)
- root vegetables