19th February 2010

Healthier bacon tasted by 300 at NFU agm breakfast

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, joined more than 300 Scottish farmers to sample a new healthier bacon unveiled today (Friday, February 19th) at Fairmont Hotel, St Andrews.

The production process to make the bacon, which is 25% lower in salt and more than 20% lower in fat than industry average, was developed as part of a Quality Meat Scotland project match-funded by Scottish Enterprise.

Among those gathered at St Andrews for NFU Scotland’s agm who joined the Cabinet Secretary in giving their seal of approval to the new “healthier” bacon were Jim McLaren, NFUS President, and Donald Biggar, Quality Meat Scotland Chairman.

The bacon was presented to the gathering by Kenny Allan, General Manager of Irvine’s of Perthshire, the butcher’s business which worked with QMS on the project. Mr Allan was joined by David Soutar, Farms Director of Strathmore Farming Company which supplied the pigs, processed by St Andrews Abattoir Company, to Irvine’s for today’s breakfast.

The bacon was developed in a project to investigate the potential to lower the salt and saturated fat content of eight traditional Scots favourites – including black pudding, sausages and Scotch Pies - while retaining the flavour that makes the products so popular.

The £40,000 project saw Quality Meat Scotland working with seven different meat producers and the Food Innovation team at Abertay University who rose to the challenge of developing the healthier formulations.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Like many others I enjoy the occasional bacon roll, so this new bacon which is 20 per cent lower in fat and has 25 per cent less salt is good news for the industry - and our health!

“Recently we’ve seen healthier versions of burgers, sausages and even the famous Scotch pie being produced by the sector as it responds to consumer demand for healthier food choices as part of a balanced diet. It’s encouraging to see one of our breakfast favourites join the list and I look forward to seeing others in the future.

“Congratulations to Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the food innovation team at Abertay University who have risen to the challenge of developing healthier versions and have delivered a timely boost to the meat sector in the process.”

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren, added: “Today has highlighted for us once again that the red meat sector in Scotland is focused on continuous improvement and innovation.

“By reducing the salt and fat content of a number of red meat products, whilst maintaining exceptional quality, this collaborative project further shows how red meat can be enjoyed as part of a healthy and balanced diet.”

Dietitian Jennifer Robertson, Health and Education Co-ordinator with Quality Meat Scotland, said a major challenge of the project had been the need to avoid compromising on the flavour which bacon, and the other Scottish favourites, are famed for.

“The development of this bacon involved a wet-curing process and the meat is cured with the skin intact.

“Through this process the skin absorbs some of the salt and the salt content of the bacon is then lowered when the skin is removed. Extra trimming of fat after the curing process creates a lower fat content.

“The result is bacon which has a salt content of 2.29g per 100g, comfortably below the Food Standard Agency’s 2012 salt target for bacon which is 2.88g per 100g,” said Ms Robertson.

Taste trials of the healthier bacon conducted by QMS involving school age children also proved very successful.

Since becoming involved in Quality Meat Scotland’s new product development project to develop the bacon formulation Irvines of Perthshire has switched its entire wet cure bacon range to the new production method.

“The resulting lower salt bacon has proved so successful is now our standard product and the feedback we’ve had from customers has been very positive,” said Kenny Allan of Irvine of Perthshire.

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