Well cared for, responsibly farmed pigs for better-tasting bacon.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to coming home and having a proper British-style bacon sandwich. Breakfast in Colombia and Central America was pretty much the same every single day – eggs, rice and beans, which was far too much like lunch, usually chicken/fish, rice and beans.
I’m really fussy about the bacon I buy and I would rather go without than buy the cheapest option on the shelf. Because so much of the cheap bacon sold in supermarkets today is Danish and Danish pigs are often intensively farmed, pumped full of antibiotics and treated terribly (more about that here). Ultimately this means a poorer flavour too – overly salty and pumped full of water as a ploy to charge customers more for an inflated weight.
What’s wrong with antibiotics in bacon?
You’re probably aware that the more antibiotics our body takes in, the more we become resistant to them. But did you know that the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is encouraging the emergence of resistant bacteria that can transfer to humans too?
MRSA is linked to the overuse of powerful antibiotics in factory farms and in 2015, pork sold by several leading British supermarkets was found to be contaminated with a strain of the superbug. The antibiotics used in farming are also the main cause of human infections such as Salmonella and Campylobacter and they also significantly contribute to E.coli infections.
Residues of antibiotics in the food we eat aren’t the problem though, it’s the resistant bacteria that can spread to people: through meat handling, direct contact with animals or through the environment.
Within farming, the pig industry is the biggest user of antibiotics and instead of immunising only the sick pigs, some farms will routinely administer antibiotics to a whole herd to limit the effects of illness. Prior to new rules set out by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) at the beginning of the year, antibiotics were even being administered to fatten animals up.
Pigs have a happier life, thanks to Spoiltpig
So what’s the alternative?
Whilst I appreciate we can’t all choose to eat morally, all of the time and many aren’t in my privileged position, I do hope that by raising awareness of bad farming practices and supporting those that are trying to change things it will mean, one-day, high welfare, antibiotic-free meat won’t be a luxury but the norm for everyone.
Now you know more about the issues you may want to change the bacon you buy. The good news is, Spoiltpig has just launched the first 100% “Raised Without Antibiotics” bacon in the UK. Spoiltpig has always believed in farming responsibly and because their bacon comes from pigs that are reared in healthy environments, it means there is little or no need for antibiotic treatment. This is achieved by allowing later weaning and ensuring the pigs are not mixed in ages, which avoids illness (85-90% of all the pigs reared this way do not require antibiotic treatment).
Where pigs do require treatment, it’s delivered on a ‘need to do’ basis, directly to the individual animals – not the entire herd. The animal receiving treatment is then tagged and processed as regular RSPCA approved, not Raised Without Antibiotics.
The Spoiltpig ‘Raised without Antibiotics’ range includes both smoked and unsmoked, dry cured back bacon and dry cured smoked streaky bacon – RRP of £3 (although Morrisons has them on offer right now at £2.86). If you’re undecided about which of the two cuts to try, back bacon is slightly healthier as it’s leaner and streaky bacon tends to have more flavour due to more fat running through it.
After being sent a packet of both the smoked and unsmoked bacon to try, I made a big round of bacon sandwiches for my whole family in order to gather a collective opinion. The feedback was unanimous – we are definitely going to buy this bacon again. The cuts were a generous thickness, not wafer thin and not easily torn like cheaper bacon and with 6-7 slices in a packet, there were enough to make two well-filled sandwiches.
The production of the bacon is very traditional – each loin is rubbed with a sea salt cure (but at a minimum), left to mature and then gently smoked over beechwood. This creates a really subtle smoky finish as opposed to an overpowering one and allows the natural flavour of the bacon to come through, whilst maintaining succulence.
How to make the perfect bacon sandwich?
Now I know everyone has their own way of making a bacon sandwich and there’s always the debate of whether it should include red or brown sauce (or English Mustard even) but my personal preference is as follows:
3-4 rashes of smokey back bacon, fried until brown and crispy on the rind, and sandwiched between 2 chunky slices of chewy brown sourdough, spread with creamy Knob Brighton butter, tomato sauce (sometimes with brown mixed together!) and a dusting of white pepper. The white pepper is the key here, as just like the gentle beechwood smoking, it adds a subtle layer of flavour to the sandwich and brings out the natural flavour in the meat. It just works so much better than the more commonly used black pepper which has a harsher flavour.
So, if you fancy giving Spoiltpig products a try for yourself (and I recommend you do) pop along to Morrisons, Ocado, Budgens, Booths, Nisa or Costco. Just look out for the blue ‘Raised Without Antibiotics label’ and the RSPCA Assured label on the packet to be sure you’re buying products from animals that have had a better life.
If you’d like to hear more about high-welfare food on the blog, let me know by leaving a comment or clicking the heart button below. Thanks!
* Disclosure: I was sent spoiltpig products in exchange for an honest review.