British meat bosses have won an exemption for producers of cured meat from a new directive limiting the use of nitrates and nitrites.
The Provision Trade Federation and British Meat Processors Association persuaded European Union officials that products such as bacon and ham merited a derogation on the basis of health, safety and quality.
Manufacturers argued that they would have been forced to increase salt levels to maintain microbiological integrity.
Some experts believe that high levels in the diet of nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives, can cause cancer.