Posted by: Marietjie | 2009/10/05

Chicken Viennas

Dear Dietdoc,
My children (7 and 12) absolutely love Rainbow chicken viennas with the cheesy bits inside. I usually give them one each in their snack boxes to school (together with half a jam/cheese sandwich and a fruit). I' ve also found that one such vienna fills them up better than a packet of chips or sweets when we' re on the road, and I unfortunately thought it a healthier alternative to chips and sweets.

However, over the weekend, an acquaintance told me that the preservatives sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate cause cancer. I am now quite panic-stricken as I feel I' ve done my children harm, and don' t know whether I should ban these viennas (and anything with these preservatives - porc viennas/bacon/cold cuts?) from my home for ever.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Marietjie
Firstly you need to check on the labels of preserved meats to see if they do contain sodium nitrate/nitrite or not. If they do, then one can still eat such foods in moderation, but not every day. High intakes of foods preserved with nitrates/nitrites may cause cancer, but other foods such as fruit and vegetables will protect against cancer. So apply the first and most important Food-Based Dietary Guideline which is "Eat a variety of food" to stay healthy. Please don't panic, just make sure that your children eat lots of different foods, for example yoghurt, cheese cubes, chicken sandwiches instead of the viennas, tuna rolls, eggs sandwiches, fruit both fresh and dried and an occasional Vienna!
Best regards

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