For years, the meat industry has depended on synthetically produced sodium nitrate for creating cured meat and products cost-efficiently; the additive has proven itself as a preservative and color fixative, and has provided a sure way to deliver the key characteristics meat lovers look for. For inhibiting lipid oxidation, slowing the development of off-flavors, and improving color stability, processors have long used synthetic antioxidants such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), PG (propyl gallate), and TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) to achieve the shelf life extension they need.

More recently, manufacturers are turning to natural compounds, including plant extracts, aiming to replicate (as nearly as possible) the functionality provided by traditional synthetics.