Does Arby’s Roast Beef Have Nitrates? What You Need To Know

As an Arby’s fan I’m always down for one of their delicious roast beef sandwiches. But recently I’ve been hearing concerning things about nitrates in processed meats. So I had to ask – does Arby’s roast beef contain nitrates?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Arby’s confirmed that their roast beef does contain sodium nitrate as a preservative This was surprising and worrying news to me. In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about nitrates in Arby’s roast beef, including

  • What are nitrates and why are they used?
  • How much is in Arby’s roast beef?
  • The health concerns around nitrates
  • How Arby’s roast beef is made
  • Nutrition facts to consider
  • Safer sandwich alternatives

Let’s dive in and get the full story on one of America’s most popular fast food meats,

What Are Nitrates and Why Are They Used in Food?

Nitrates are chemical compounds containing nitrogen and oxygen. They occur naturally in vegetables like beets, celery, and spinach.

In processed meats like deli meat, hot dogs, bacon, and jerky, sodium nitrate is added during manufacturing. It helps:

  • Prevent bacterial growth
  • Prolong shelf life
  • Maintain appealing pink color

Without preservatives like sodium nitrate, these meats would spoil rapidly and turn an unappetizing gray color. But there are health concerns around consuming too much.

How Much Sodium Nitrate is in Arby’s Roast Beef?

According to studies, a regular Arby’s roast beef sandwich contains around 270 mg of sodium nitrate. That’s a substantial amount from just one sandwich.

For context, the World Health Organization recommends limiting nitrate intake from processed meats to 0-31 mg per day. Consuming just one Arby’s sandwich far exceeds that limit.

The FDA does allow certain safety-tested limits on sodium nitrate in processed meats. However, some experts argue that even small amounts pose health risks. It’s smart to be cautious and limit your intake.

Why Are Nitrates Potentially Harmful?

Research has linked high processed meat and sodium nitrate consumption to an increased risk of:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes

Here’s a quick science lesson on why nitrates may be unhealthy:

  • In your stomach, nitrates convert into nitrites
  • Nitrites can then form cancer-causing nitrosamine compounds
  • These damage DNA and accelerate tumor growth

Of course, occasionally enjoying processed meats like bacon or deli turkey in moderation is fine for most people. But regularly eating large amounts could be problematic.

How is Arby’s Roast Beef Made?

To understand exactly what’s in their roast beef, let’s break down Arby’s meat processing method:

  • Beef cuts are sourced from trusted suppliers
  • Transported to Arby’s processing facilities
  • Seasoned with signature spice blend
  • Placed in a self-basting solution containing water and sodium nitrate
  • Roasted for 3+ hours to tenderize
  • Chilled, sliced thin, then packaged
  • Shipped to restaurants, heated, and served

The sodium nitrate solution gives Arby’s roast beef its signature pink color and prevents spoilage. Roasting concentrates the nitrate content compared to fresh beef.

Nutrition Facts to Know About Arby’s Roast Beef

Here are some key nutrition facts on their classic roast beef sandwich:

  • 360 calories
  • 14g total fat (5g saturated)
  • 970mg sodium
  • 29g protein

Compare that to the Half-Pound Beef ‘n Cheddar:

  • 740 calories
  • 39g total fat
  • 2,530mg sodium! (over daily limit)
  • 56g protein

As you can see, sodium and saturated fat intake varies hugely depending on your menu picks. Stick to lighter options if you want to limit nitrates and unhealthy fats.

Healthier Fast Food Alternatives to Arby’s Roast Beef

If you’re concerned about nitrates and want to make better fast food choices, here are some tasty alternatives to Arby’s roast beef:

  • Subway Roast Beef Sandwich – lower calorie option with only 300 calories and 5g fat

  • Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Nuggets – much lower fat than fried and 110mg less sodium

  • Burger King Grilled Chicken Sandwich – skip the beef and ask for no mayo/cheese

  • Panera Napa Almond Chicken Salad – filling nutritious salad sandwich combo

  • Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Wrap – 68g protein and only 12g fat

The bottom line? Be choosy about your fast food picks. Compare nutrition facts and ingredients to choose lighter options with less sodium and nitrates when possible.

The Takeaway on Arby’s Roast Beef and Nitrates

While an occasional Arby’s sandwich likely poses minimal risk, regularly eating large amounts of processed meats high in sodium nitrate isn’t the healthiest choice. Moderation and variety are key principles to follow.

If you’re concerned about nitrates, speak to your doctor about appropriate limits for your individual health status. They can offer guidance on reducing cancer risks.

Luckily, with so many tasty fast food options available today, you don’t have to totally give up your meaty favorites. Just be mindful of how often you indulge.

I’ll still enjoy Arby’s from time to time when a craving strikes. But I’ll also incorporate more homemade nitrate-free meats, fresh produce, whole grains and plant-based proteins into my diet.

By making informed choices about your food, you can still treat yourself to the occasional fast food meal while keeping your health a top priority. After all, our health is the most precious thing we have to nourish and protect.

The Truth About Arby’s Roast Beef


Is Arby’s roast beef healthy for you?

When looking at Arby’s main dishes, you will find that roast beef dominates the options. Beef is packed with protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins, but the accompanying bun, cheeses, and sauces add fat, sugar, and sodium. You could consider ditching half the bun when ordering a sandwich to help minimize these factors.

What are the ingredients in Arby’s roast beef?

Roast Beef: Beef, Water, Salt, Sodium Phosphates. Roast Ham: Ham Cured With: Water, Salt, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Nitrite. Roast Turkey: Turkey Breast, Turkey Broth, Contains 2% or less of the following: Salt, Brown Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate.

Is Arby’s roast beef processed?

Arby’s uses Beef to make their famous roast beef meat. It’s processed in a unique way that yields a sliced product. Their proceed beef includes salt and water and other common additives that help ensure consistency and adhesion.

Does Arby’s use roasted beef concentrate?

Arby’s roast beef recipe includes water, salt, and sodium phosphates as preservatives. In addition to these ingredients, they also use liquid roasted beef concentrate. Water is added to help keep the beef moist and tender during the roasting process, and salt is used to enhance the flavor.

Does Arby’s serve meats?

Arby’s is known for its meats. The fast-food chain serves roast beef, chicken, and turkey. Its classic menu items include the Beef & Cheddar Sandwich and Curly Fries.

How unhealthy is Arby’s roast beef?

Arby’s roast beef in the Classic Roast Beef sandwich is not terrible for you. It has 360 calories and 14 grams of fat, which is relatively good compared to other fast food sandwiches.

What is a Classic Roast Beef from Arby’s?

A Classic Roast Beef from Arby’s is made of beef, water, salt, and sodium phosphates.

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