Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

I Love Bacon

Randal spent six years working in our store meat departments before becoming our global pork buyer. He spends most of his time with his wife and four children, and enjoys playing music and doing anything outdoors and, of course, cooking. I’m a huge bacon fan, so when the meat team suggested a blog post about our uncured bacon, my mouth started watering at the very thought! Did you know that all sizzling bacon is not the same? At Whole Foods Market we sell bacon that is cured with naturally occurring salts, rather than the usual method of curing the meat with synthetic sodium nitrates/nitrites. In fact, all of our processed meat items, including bacon, start with meat from our approved producers and must adhere to our Quality Standards, which include:
  • No synthetic nitrates/nitrites
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No antibiotics
  • No added hormones*
*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork. To find out more about curing bacon, I spoke with Ed Ladzinski, the owner of Hahn’s of Westminster, located just outside of Baltimore. Hahn’s is one of the small processor’s for our bacon. Ed described his natural curing process for making Wellshire Uncured Bacon: “The pork bellies are put into a massager with about 4 pounds of water and flavorings (such as sea salt, sugar or spices), gently tumbled for about an hour and then rested for a day or two. This allows the bellies to pick up the flavorings before we cook them in the smokehouse with applewood chips. After four hours, we blast freeze the bellies to 22°F, which allows us to slice the bacon and package it.” Ed continued, “At the end of the day, because we don’t inject the pork bellies with water, when our bacon is cooked in the frying pan, the meat doesn’t shrink. You’re essentially getting more for your money!” Hahn’s of Westminster provides Wellshire Uncured Bacon (called Pork Side Seasoned Smoked in Canada) to all our US and Canadian stores. Since Hahn’s is a small processing company (they currently have 70 employees), they are able to cure bacon in a truly artisanal way and produce bacon for Wellshire exclusively for Whole Foods Market stores. In doing so, the partnership between Hahn’s and Wellshire supports the small community of Westminster, MD. That’s a win for everyone. Have you tried this tasty bacon? Tell us what you think!

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117 comments

Comments

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JF - We have extremely high standards when it comes to Animal Welfare. You can find more info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards.

Ruth Kuttler says …

I try not to eat bacon too often but definitely will not eat any meat with sodium nitrites or nitrates. This is a good reason to buy from Whole Foods!

Beverly Kline says …

I'm interested in purchasing the organic bacon. hopefully you sell to the general public. Would you please email me when its available?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BEVERLY - Our availability will differ between stores. Check with your local store to see what organic options they have in stock.

Denise says …

Does Whole Food sale any bacon that does not have sugar added?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DENISE - Most of our stores should carry this but exact vendors will differ. Check with your local store to find out what options they have in stock.

Fred B. says …

I love Whole Foods bacon, AND I am also very concerned about the ethical and environmental standards of the farms that raise the pigs used to make this bacon. Please comment on this. Thanks

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@FRED - This is an older post and since this we have implemented a 5-Step Animal Welfare rating system. Check with your local store to see if they have bacon options that are step rated and you can find out specifics on the steps at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/animal-welfare/5-step-animal-welfare-rating

Dolores Husfeld says …

After getting uncured thick sliced bacon at Whole Foods, I wouldn't buy it anywhere else. In the long run, it really isn't more per pound because there is less fat and better tasting. I can depend on it being processed without hormones, nitrates, etc. I only buy pre-packaged bacon as a last result.

Mark says …

Once again, WFM is right on. Nitrosamines are known carcinogens. Thank you so much.

Nolin Feller says …

Hello, I am a mom just trying to buy the best quality foods for my family. Can you tell me please where the hogs are raised, what their diet is, and where they are processed? I couldn't find that info on the website. Kind regards!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NOLAN - Since our bacon vendors will differ between stores, check with your local store to find out where they source their bacon from.

Chris Sartor says …

Regarding nitrates and nitrites in bacon sold at Whole Foods, I was told by staff on two ocassions that Whole Foods does not allow any of these preservatives in their meat. Now I see that this is incorrect, and WF does allow these added ingredients to be sold. However, I am still curious as to why any nitrates or nitrites would be necessary. I also find the labelling on packaged bacon rather curious. Celery salt, listed on the ingredients does not naturally occur in bacon, yet the nitrates in celery salt is not listed. Is this a clever way to deceive customers into thinking bacon is nitrate-free? And why mention sea salt as a source of naturally occuring nitrates? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think nitrates were a component of sea salt.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CHRIS - Our Quality Standards prohibit synthetically-manufactured nitrates and nitrites in food. We do allow the naturally-occurring nitrates and nitrites found in celery juice or powder. We allow naturally-occurring nitrates and nitrites because some form of nitrates or nitrites is necessary in order to obtain the distinct flavor associated with cured meats like bacon and also to help with preservation of the product.

Zora Crowder says …

Are naturally occurring Nitrates from Celery Salt safe? NO! I did some research and according to Nathan S. Bryan, PhD, University of Texas Houston Biomedical Research Center states, "This notion of 'nitrite-free' or 'organically cured' meats is a public deception." Traditionally bacon was cured by adding sodium nitrite salts directly to the meat. Today most manufacturers of "nitrite free" brands add celery salt, which is about 50 percent nitrate, plus a starter culture of bacteria. This transforms the nitrate found naturally in the celery salt into nitrite, which cures the meat. Although manufacturers label this bacon "nitrite free," this method actually generates MORE nitrite from the celery salt than would ever be added as a salt. Indeed, "nitrite free" bacon can have TWICE the nitrite content of bacons cured directly with nitrite salts.

Zora says …

CURED BACON IS SAFER! Many consumers look to “organic” processed meats in order to avoid nitrites, but the fact is that these do contain nitrites, sometimes in lesser, sometimes in greater amounts than found in conventional products. That’s because the amount of nitrite that forms from nitrate in celery salt is hard to monitor, while in conventionally cured processed meats, the addition of nitrite is strictly controlled by regulations designed to minimize nitrosamine formation and maximize protection against botulism. This means any risk due to nitrosamine formation or bacterial contamination in the “organic” version is more challenging to evaluate.

Denise K. says …

I am looking for bacon with no sugar. Do you carry any that meet my "no sugar" requirement? (Whole30 approved, like Grassland Bacon (U.S. Wellness Meats)?

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