Where Does Hormel Bacon Come From? (According To Experts)

Bacon is a beloved food item that has been a staple in American cuisine for generations. Hormel Foods Corporation, a company that has been around for over a century, is one of the biggest producers of bacon in the world.

But have you ever wondered where Hormel bacon comes from?

In this article, we will take a closer look at the production process of Hormel bacon and explore the controversy surrounding the company’s claims of producing “natural” and “wholesome” products.

Join us as we delve into the world of bacon production and uncover the truth behind Hormel’s iconic meat product.

Where Does Hormel Bacon Come From?

Hormel Foods Corporation, founded in 1891 by George A. Hormel, is a major player in the bacon industry. The company’s headquarters are located in Austin, Minnesota, where they produce a wide range of pork, chicken, beef, and lamb products.

The production of bacon has been an integral part of Hormel’s refrigerated foods division since the company’s inception. Hormel’s bacon is made from high-quality pork bellies that are hand-trimmed, cured, smoked, and sliced. The company offers several bacon brands for consumers, including Applegate, Black Label Bacon, and Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Hormel’s bacon products are available in both raw and fully-cooked forms. The company also offers a variety of bacon toppings that can be added to burgers, pizza, and other dishes.

Introduction To Hormel Foods Corporation

Hormel Foods Corporation is a meat and food processing company that has come a long way since its founding in 1891. Initially, the company focused on packaging and selling ham, sausage, and other pork products to consumers. However, by the 1980s, Hormel began offering a wider range of packaged and refrigerated foods. Today, Hormel is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of food products that are sold in 80 countries worldwide. The company operates through five segments: Grocery Products, Refrigerated Foods, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Specialty Foods, and All Other. Hormel’s products are available under various brand names, including Hormel, Applegate, Black Label, and Jennie-O Turkey Store. The company is headquartered in Austin, Minnesota, where it produces a wide range of pork, chicken, beef, and lamb products. With over 110,000 employees worldwide, Hormel is a major player in the food industry and continues to innovate and expand its product offerings.

The Production Process Of Hormel Bacon

The production process for Hormel bacon begins with the selection of high-quality pork bellies. These bellies are hand-trimmed to remove any excess fat and specialized cuts are made. The bellies are then cured, smoked, and sliced to create the final product.

To ensure uniformity in the final product, the belly is run through a carbon dioxide tunnel at a temperature between -90 to -120°F for 10 to 12 minutes. This process freezes the exterior of the belly to 0°F or less and the interior of the belly to 20 to 28°F. The belly is then removed from the mold or form and stored in a cooler at a temperature between 15 to 20°F until it is ready for slicing.

When ready for slicing, the belly is removed from the cooler, sliced to the desired thickness, and then cooked in a microwave oven to create fully-cooked bacon products with a yield of 40% or less. This process ensures that the bacon is prepared quickly and easily for consumers.

In addition to its traditional bacon products, Hormel also produces bacon bits. The process for making bacon bits involves cooking the bacon until it has a pink color and a water activity level between 0.7 to 0.9. The bacon is then fried until it has a dark red color and a water activity level between 0.7 to 0.8.

Hormel’s Claims Of Natural And Wholesome Products

Hormel Foods Corporation has faced criticism for its claims that its Natural Choice products are “natural, clean, and wholesome,” which animal rights advocates argue is misleading. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against Hormel, alleging that the company falsely advertised lunch meats and bacon as “Natural Choice” when the animals used to produce them are raised in intensive factory farms. The ALDF argued that reasonable consumers would expect Natural Choice products to be derived from animals who were provided access to the outdoors, were given opportunities to graze or forage, and that animals used to produce “natural” meat are not fed artificial growth hormones. However, all animals raised and slaughtered for Hormel’s product lines, regardless of whether they ultimately become Natural Choice products, are raised on industrial, pharmaceutical-dependent factory farms. The animals are raised completely indoors in abusive conditions and given hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs. All animals are sent to the same processing facilities, where they are slaughtered in the same inhumane way. The use of terms such as “natural” to describe these products has been described as false and misleading by animal rights groups.

Controversies Surrounding Hormel’s Bacon Production

Despite its long-standing reputation for producing quality bacon, Hormel Foods Corporation has been embroiled in several controversies related to its bacon production process.

In 2014, Hormel was sued by Unitherm Food Systems, Inc. for misappropriating trade secrets related to the pre-cooking of sliced bacon. Unitherm had a joint development agreement with Hormel that encompassed the manufacture of an oven that would use very high levels of steam to cook sliced bacon. However, after the relationship between the two companies began to dwindle, Unitherm accused Hormel of disclosing important trade secrets to another food processing machinery competitor. The case was dismissed by the presiding judge, but the breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims still remain to be decided at trial.

More recently, in 2018, David Howard, creator of a process for producing precooked bacon slices in a spiral oven, filed a lawsuit against Hormel Foods Corp. for allegedly infringing on his patent for a hybrid bacon cooking system. Howard claimed that Hormel had been producing precooked bacon since 2014 using his process without his permission. He sought to regain control of the technology and transfer the patent on the hybrid bacon oven to himself.

These controversies raise questions about Hormel’s commitment to ethical business practices and the protection of intellectual property rights. However, it should be noted that Hormel has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing in either case and continues to produce high-quality bacon products for consumers.

Hormel’s Commitment To Sustainability And Animal Welfare

In recent years, Hormel has faced criticism for its treatment of animals and sustainability practices. In 2016, the company was sued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Public Justice Food Project for falsely advertising their “Natural Choice” brand as being healthier and more environmentally friendly than their other products. Hormel was found to be using the same meat in their “Natural Choice” line as they were in their other products, leading to accusations of misleading consumers.

In response to these criticisms, Hormel has taken steps to improve their animal welfare and sustainability practices. The company has a zero-tolerance policy for any abuse or mistreatment of its pigs and is committed to achieving high standards of consistent care to ensure the safety and welfare of its animals. In addition, Hormel has suspended facilities owned by The Maschhoffs LLC, a hog production company that supplies Hormel with pork, after footage emerged showing pigs being abused at one of their Oklahoma farms.

Hormel has also made commitments to reduce their environmental impact. The company has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and has implemented several initiatives to achieve this goal, including investing in renewable energy and reducing waste. Hormel also partners with organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Environmental Defense Fund to promote sustainable practices in the food industry.

Conclusion: The Truth Behind Hormel Bacon

However, recent lawsuits and allegations have shed light on the truth behind Hormel’s bacon products. The company has been accused of misleading consumers through its advertising of its Natural Choice® brand of lunch meats and bacon. The lawsuit alleges that the meats Hormel advertises as “natural” actually come from animals raised in factory farms that employ additives, hormones, and antibiotics, and contain ingredients that constitute artificial preservatives.

Furthermore, Hormel’s Natural Choice® products are not from more humane or more natural farms, but come from the same industrialized factory farms as any of Hormel’s other products. This is in stark contrast to the company’s advertising campaign that takes advantage of consumers’ beliefs that “natural” meat comes from animals raised in a specific, sustainable way.

Hormel has also faced criticism for its marketing tactics, such as its recent sweepstakes offering consumers a chance to win a 10-year supply of bacon. While this may seem like a fun and harmless promotion, it is important to consider the impact of such marketing on consumers’ health and the environment.