Cancer risk in full Irish breakfast slashed as safer bacon hits supermarket shelves for first time
September 2018

The cancer risk in the full Irish breakfast has been slashed today as a huge technological breakthrough that eliminates dangerous nitrites from bacon is made available to Irish consumers for the first time.

In a major development that has been hailed by expert scientists around the world, Naked Bacon is the first mass-produced rasher to be made without the cancer-causing chemicals.

75 Tesco stores across the Republic of Ireland will be stocking the ground breaking safer bacon from today (Wednesday).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said bacon cured with nitrites is as dangerous as asbestos and smoking, as nitrites produce carcinogenic nitrosamines when ingested.

They have estimated that 34,000 bowel and colon cancer deaths per year worldwide are directly attributable to diets high in processed meats – and warned that eating two rashers of nitrite cured bacon per day increases the risk of contracting bowel cancer by 18 per cent.

But with Naked Bacon hitting Tesco shelves today, all that is set to change in the biggest revolution to the full Irish breakfast for a generation. 

Professor Chris Elliott, who chairs the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast and is respected as one of Europe’s top food scientists, has hailed this food revolution. He commented:

“Many forms of processed foods have come under the spotlight over recent years for their unhealthy attributes. Processed red meat in particular has been a focal point.

“Finnebrogue have used a combination of innovation and natural fruit and spice extracts to come up with a bacon that is made without the need for added nitrites. Nitro containing compounds, used in the manufacture of traditional bacons, are known to cause the formation of chemicals that have negative health impacts.

“To have a bacon produced naturally, that doesn’t require such chemicals to be added or formed during processing, is a very welcome development.”

The launch of nitrite-free bacon in Ireland comes as the European Union pledges imminent action on nitrites in processed meats.

Under pressure from MEPs who have explained how “scientists have been alerting us of the indirectly carcinogenic nature of added nitrates and nitrites since the 1970s”, the European Commission says it will lower the levels at which nitrites are allowed to be added to meat.

In response to a parliamentary question from French MEPs last month, Commissioner Andriukaitis, the EU’s supremo on food safety, commented:

“After discussions with the Member States, the Commission is considering revising the current food additive authorisations for E 249-252 to lower the uses and use levels to the extent possible, in the light of the EFSA opinions, as well as the 2016 study referenced by the Honourable Members. This would likely contribute to a decrease in the overall exposure.”

Naked Bacon has been developed by the artisan food manufacturer, Finnebrogue. It will be only bacon widely available in Ireland to be completely free from nitrites, preservatives, E numbers and all allergens.

Finnebrogue, also a leading sausage and venison supplier from Downpatrick, worked with a Spanish chemist to develop a new way of flavouring bacon without nitrites. The technology has been used to make continental style hams in France for over a year but this is the first time it has been made available to Irish consumers.

The natural flavour is produced from natural Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts, following ten years of research and development.

Denis Lynn, Finnebrogue chairman, commented:

“The problem with ordinary rashers is they contain nitrites, chemicals that produce cancer-causing nitrosamines in your gut. Put simply, nitrites should not be in food.

“Our Naked Bacon is not only safer than any other bacon on the market, it also tops the charts in blind taste tests. This really is the biggest revolution to the Irish breakfast for a generation.”

Tesco Ireland’s Ciaran Dorney commented:

“Naked Bacon truly is a food revolution. The story around nitrites and their health risks has been gathering pace around the world for some time, but until now Irish bacon lovers haven’t been provided with a safer alternative.

“Tesco is delighted to be the first to be offering this nitrite-free option to our Irish customers, who we know are demanding additive free food on a more regular basis. Not only is Naked Bacon made without without nitrites – but it is also absolutely delicious.”

The purpose of adding nitrites is to give cured meat its characteristic pink colour, texture, some flavour and also to help as a preservative. The new natural flavouring being used in Naked Bacon has a similar effect, but does not contain the health risks.

In more great news for Irish bacon lovers, Finnebrogue’s Naked Bacon beats its leading competitors in independent blind taste tests.

Every year the Irish eat 30.1 million packets of bacon.