Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple, but it’s no secret that it’s not the healthiest option out there. One of the biggest concerns with bacon is the presence of nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to cancer.
With so many “all-natural” and “nitrate-free” options on the market, it can be hard to know what to choose. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Wright bacon and whether or not it contains nitrates.
We’ll also explore the controversy surrounding nitrates in bacon and what you can do to make healthier choices when it comes to your breakfast meat.
So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive in!
Does Wright Bacon Have Nitrates?
Wright bacon is a popular brand of bacon that is known for its smoky flavor and crispy texture. But does it contain nitrates?
After conducting some research, we found that Wright bacon does contain nitrates. The ingredient list on their website shows that their bacon is cured with sodium nitrite, which is a common preservative used in many processed meats.
While some bacon manufacturers have responded to concerns over nitrates by using “all-natural” alternatives like celery powder, Wright bacon has not made this switch. This means that their bacon is not considered “uncured” or “nitrate-free.”
What Are Nitrates And Why Are They In Bacon?
Nitrates are a type of salt that are commonly used in the food industry as a preservative and to enhance the color of meat products like bacon. Sodium nitrate is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in many green vegetables, while sodium nitrite is derived from sodium nitrate and is the compound that contains antimicrobial properties that are desired in the production of bacon, hot dogs, and salami.
In the case of bacon, sodium nitrite is added during the curing process to help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria like botulism. It also provides the characteristic pink color and distinct cured flavor that many people love about bacon.
However, there are concerns about the health risks associated with consuming nitrates. When nitrates are heated at high temperatures, they can form nitrosamines, which are known to be carcinogenic. This is why manufacturers are required by law to limit the amount of nitrites they use in processed meats and add vitamin C to inhibit nitrosamine formation.
Consumers can reduce their risk of nitrosamine exposure by making wise choices when shopping for processed meats like bacon. Some outlets sell quality bacon that is nitrate-free or low in nitrates. However, it’s important to note that some natural and organic ways of preserving meat, such as celery salt, may contain nitrates. This means that some “nitrate-free” bacon may actually contain more nitrates than conventional bacon.
The Controversy Surrounding Nitrates In Bacon
The use of nitrates in processed meats like bacon has been a controversial topic for years. Nitrites are added to bacon to help preserve it and give it that pink color that consumers expect. However, studies have shown that when nitrites are heated in the presence of proteins, like those found in bacon, they can form carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines.
This has led some consumers to seek out bacon labeled as “nitrate-free” or “uncured.” These bacons are typically brined with salt and natural flavorings like celery juice, which naturally contains organic nitrates. The nitrates in the celery juice are converted to nitrites during processing, but since they are not added as an ingredient, the bacon can be labeled as “nitrate-free.”
However, it’s important to note that even these “uncured” bacons contain nitrites and nitrates, just in lower amounts than their cured counterparts. In fact, a study by Cook’s Illustrated found that some uncured bacons actually had higher levels of nitrite than cured bacon.
Despite the controversy surrounding nitrates in bacon, the use of these additives is still approved by regulatory agencies like the USDA and the European Food Safety Authority. Proponents argue that nitrates help prevent botulism and other foodborne illnesses, while also adding flavor and extending shelf life.
On the other hand, critics point to the potential health risks associated with nitrosamines and argue that alternatives like celery powder should be used instead. Some scientists and politicians have even called for nitrites to be removed from processed meats altogether.
Understanding All-natural And Nitrate-free Labeling
When shopping for bacon, you may come across labels like “all-natural” or “nitrate-free.” These labels can be confusing and may lead you to believe that the bacon is healthier or safer to consume. However, it’s important to understand what these labels actually mean.
“All-natural” bacon is cured with natural ingredients like celery powder instead of synthetic nitrates and nitrites. While celery powder does contain nitrates, it also contains antioxidants like vitamin C that prevent the formation of nitrosamines, which are known to be carcinogenic. However, it’s important to note that using celery powder to cure bacon can actually result in higher levels of nitrites in the meat than using synthetic nitrates and nitrites.
On the other hand, “nitrate-free” bacon is brined with salt, a bacterial lactic acid starter culture, and celery juice (sometimes listed as “natural flavor”). While this method does not involve adding synthetic nitrates or nitrites, the celery juice naturally contains a high level of organic nitrate. During the curing process, the bacteria in the starter culture convert the organic nitrate to nitrite, which can still form potentially harmful nitrosamines when heated in the presence of proteins.
It’s important to note that both “all-natural” and “nitrate-free” bacon can still contain nitrates and nitrites, albeit in lower levels than conventionally cured bacon. The U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines allow for up to 120 parts per million (ppm) of nitrite in cured meats.
Making Healthier Choices For Your Breakfast Meat
If you’re looking to make healthier choices for your breakfast meat, there are a few options to consider. First, you could opt for uncured bacon, which is pork belly that has been preserved without the added chemicals of nitrates and nitrites. This type of bacon is becoming more widely available in supermarkets and can be found in both traditional and specialty varieties.
Another option is to choose high-quality, pastured bacon from a local farmer or butcher. These types of bacon are often made with fewer additives and come from animals that have been raised in a more natural and humane way. While they may be more expensive than conventional bacon, they can be a good choice for those looking to prioritize their health and support sustainable agriculture.
When cooking bacon, it’s important to do so at a low temperature to minimize the formation of carcinogenic compounds. You can also experiment with using different cooking methods, such as baking or grilling, to reduce your exposure to harmful substances.
Ultimately, the key to making healthier choices for your breakfast meat is to be informed and mindful about the products you choose to consume. By doing your research and seeking out high-quality, minimally processed options, you can enjoy the delicious taste of bacon while also taking care of your health.