Have you ever noticed frying pan froth when you are cooking bacon for your sarnie or fry ups? If so, froth may be no more since the EU plans to cut the amount of water to 5% from 10% in bacon rashers.
This move has been welcomed by foodies across Britain, who says it will stop the delicious flavour of bacon being diluted. However, the rules have been opposed by producers and supermarkets. Very little bacon sold in the UK has less than 5% water, as the current legislation sets the limit at 10%.
“Pumping bacon full of water does nothing for it. The moisture and flavour comes from the fat – just as it does from Parma ham or good salami”, explains Paul Ainsworth, owner of Number 6 restaurant, which was named the best in Cornwall in the 2008 Good Food Guide.
The Daily Telegraph food writer, Xanthe Clay, said “Added water effectively means you end up boiling your bacon. Reducing the water content would result in meatier bacon with a ‘more yummy’ factor”.
“If you put some fat on your pigs, then you get nice moist bacon”, suggested Richard Lutwyche, a breeder of Gloucestershire Old Spots.
Bacon rashers with more than 5% water will be labelled as “bacon with added water” when the new rule change is in force during 2015.
Retailers and supermarkets are worried that the new labels will put off consumers and expect the taste and price will be dramatically altered if the water content is cut.
Many retailers have argued that customers may not enjoy the reduced water bacon, as our palates are accustomed to high water content.
“It would make the bacon less moist, less succulent and less tender when it was cooked”, says a spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents supermarkets.
The spokesperson said that there was “no evidence” that customers wanted to change and it would only confuse customers.
It has been suggested by Clare Cheney, of the Provision Trade Federation, that prices would have to rise if bacon producers were to make it with less than 5% added water. She explained that suppliers would find it hard to change production methods to lower the water percentage.
There will also be pressure for restaurants who serve bacon, who are already struggling to stay open for business, due to current supply costs, commercial restaurant insurance costs and the cost of hiring staff.
Cheney also said that being able to call the meat bacon rather than bacon with added water was important to retain consumer confidence.
Will there be a bacon bust up between the new EU rules and retailers?