Five centuries ago, bacon was used to refer to any pork meat. Today it can be made from other animals as well, such as turkey or beef, but in that case the label on the meat packaging needs to clearly state that the product is, for example, a “Turkey bacon-cured turkey thigh meat” or similar name that accurately describes it. If the product is labeled “Bacon,” it means the meat comes from the belly of a pig.
Bacon labels are essential to bacon consumers and producers. They inform consumers about the product’s nutritional value, ingredients, origin of the manufacturer and other important details, and they give bacon manufacturers an opportunity to win over customers by being transparent about their product.
The Complexity of Meat Labeling
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is in charge of monitoring how bacon is produced and controlling the accuracy of labels on bacon sold in the U.S. This agency has very clear instructions on how information should be presented on the label. For example, many bacon products are cured with salt and nitrite for better preservation, but some are uncured. If bacon is made without the use of nitrite, the label must read: “Uncured Bacon, No Nitrates or Nitrites added”.
However, there are additional “twists” to labeling uncured bacon. If it hasn’t been dried and doesn’t contain salt that causes it to achieve internal brine concentration of at least 10%, it has to include a statement: “Not preserved, keep refrigerated below 40° F at all times”. Further, even if the manufacturers didn’t use nitrite for curing their product, maybe they included additives that can naturally produce certain amounts of nitrates. In such cases the label must also include the following statement: “No nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in ingredients such as celery juice powder, parsley, cherry powder, beet powder, spinach, sea salt etc.” Similarly, there are specific rules for labeling:
- Canned pasteurized bacon
- Canned prefried bacon
- Cooked bacon
- Uncooked bacon
- Natural bacon (any uncured bacon can be labeled natural)
- Gluten-free bacon (if processed in a gluten-free area)
- Organic bacon (if made from certified organic meat), etc.
This is only a fraction of FSIS food labeling requirements and bacon manufacturers are urged to carefully study them, hire expert labeling help if needed, and comply with USDA regulations on meat labeling.
Can You Eat Raw Bacon?
One of very popular bacon-related questions online is: Can I eat raw bacon? The safest answer is no. Raw meat contains harmful bacteria and parasites, so our advices is to always cook or fry bacon before eating it. However, many people eat raw bacon bought in stores without any consequences. That’s because most commercial bacon products are cured (preserved with salt) and smoked. However, curing and smoking bacon doesn’t guarantee that all bacteria will be destroyed, so the safest bet is to avoid eating raw meat. USDA requires bacon stickers to include safe handling information, which reminds consumers to keep bacon refrigerated or frozen, and to cook it thoroughly before use. For more information on using bacon safely, check out these questions and answers by USDA.
What Do Consumers Look for in a Food Label?
Bacon manufacturers need to follow strict guidelines for proper labeling in order to avoid penalties, but also to gain their potential customers’ trust. Consumers are interested in many things about the food they are buying and they are hoping to find it on the food packaging label. For example, they want to know if bacon contains additives such as salt, sugars, maple sugar, flavoring, spices and other less known ingredients, as well as if the pigs were given antibiotics to cure diseases during their lifetime. Some consumers might want to know the origin of the meat, the manufacturer’s address, safe handling instructions and “use-by” date.
Many people shop in bulk and like to freeze their food. The manufacturers usually advise freezing bacon within a week of purchase. The period of time to store bacon in the freezer will depend on the type of bacon (turkey, pork, cooked, raw), but it can usually maintain good quality for a month or even longer. To be on the safe side, it is a good idea to wrap the bacon packaging in additional freezer-proof wrapper before putting it in the freezer.
Requirements for Freezer Proof Food Labels
Once you’ve resolved all dilemmas regarding what information to include on your bacon label, the next step is to make sure it is designed and printed properly. One of the most common mistakes food manufacturers make when ordering labels for frozen food is choosing regular, cold-temp adhesives that don’t quite work in freezing conditions. Labels that peel off look unprofessional and can compromise the food company’s image. To avoid that, use freezer food labels.
FreezerLabels.net team of professional designers and printers will help you choose appropriate freezer grade material and make sure that you get the best quality label order for your bacon product.