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March 14, 2024

What Does ‘Uncured’ Mean?

The real difference between cured and uncured bacon, ham and Canadian bacon

Jones Dairy Farm boasts a diverse selection of breakfast meats that are naturally smoked including bacon, ham and Canadian bacon. While most of these offerings are traditionally cured, Jones also offers a selection of uncured breakfast meats too. While it has become commonplace to see products labeled as “uncured” in grocery stores today, the term uncured remains a mystery to many consumers. So what does uncured mean? Simply put, it boils down to how meat is preserved.

What is curing?

Curing is the process of preserving meat. During this process, nitrates and nitrites (natural compounds made of nitrogen and oxygen) are added to the meat to prevent spoilage. Curing also adds flavor, color and texture to the meat. Fun fact, before the advent of refrigeration, curing by means of salting and drying was a primary method of preserving food.

What is the difference between cured and “uncured”?

Meats labeled as cured use chemical, man-made preservatives like sodium nitrite, while meats labeled as “uncured” rely on natural preservatives, such as celery powder and sea salt.  The cured versus uncured terminology is dictated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labeling regulation.

Is “uncured” meat still cured?

Yes, uncured meat such as bacon, ham and Canadian bacon is still cured, just in a more natural way. Products labeled as “uncured” — such as Jones Dairy Farm’s Uncured Canadian Bacon — use fruits and vegetables like celery, which transform into nitrite when processed.

Since nitrite isn’t added as an independent ingredient, these products are considered “uncured” by law and labeled as “No Nitrates or Nitrites Added.” It’s also important to note that these products are not nitrate or nitrite-free. The molecules simply come from natural sources like celery powder, rather than man-made sodium nitrite and other manufactured chemicals.

Is “uncured” meat healthier?

This question of whether uncured meats are healthier for you is a topic of great debate. As discussed, products labeled as “uncured” still contain nitrite. And nitrates and nitrites are important to prevent foodborne diseases. They also give ham, bacon and other cured meats their distinctive color and taste. The bottom line is choice and how you prefer your smoked meats to be preserved.

Learn more about Jones Dairy Farm’s uncured products:

Uncured No Sugar Hickory Smoked Bacon – Extra Thick Slices

Uncured No Sugar Heritage Ham

No Antibiotics Ever Canadian Bacon

Uncured Turkey Bacon

Check the Product Finder for the grocery store closest to you that carries Jones uncured products.

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