For the first time food scientists have managed to produced bacon that does not include nitrates from vegetables or curing agents.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently warns that bacon cured with nitrites is as dangerous as asbestos and smoking, because the chemicals produce carcinogenic nitrosamines when ingested.
They have estimated that around 34,000 bowel and colon cancer deaths each year are directly attributable to diets which are high in processed meat.
The WHO has also calculated that eating two rashers of nitrate cured bacon per day increases the risk of contracting bowel cancer by 18 per cent.
But now British meat manufacturers Finnebrogue have worked with Spanish chemists to produce the first nitrate-free bacon, called Naked Bacon, which will be available in supermarkets from January.
“Many forms of processed foods have come under the spotlight over recent years for their unhealthy attributes. Processed red meat in particular has been a focal point,” Professor Chris Elliott, who ran the Government’s investigation into the 2013 horsemeat scandal and now chairs the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast.
“Nitro containing compounds, used in the manufacture of traditional bacons, are known to cause the formation of chemicals that have negative health impacts.
“To have a bacon produced naturally, that doesn't require such chemicals to be added or formed during processing, is a very welcome development.”
The bacon is the first to be completely free from nitrites, preservatives, E numbers and all allergens.
Neil Parish MP, the chairman of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, said: "Making bacon without nitrites - and reducing the risk in the famous full English breakfast - is a remarkable feat of food technology and a brilliant British success story.
"This is further evidence that the British food industry is going from strength to strength.”
The purpose of adding nitrites is to give cured meat its characteristic pink colour, texture, some flavour and also to help as a preservative.
The new natural flavouring being used is produced from natural Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts, following ten years of research and development. And crucially, in independent blind taste tests, consumers said it was as good or better than traditionally cured meat.
The flavour is currently being used in continental style hams in the European Union, but this will be the first time the technology has been applied to British bacon and available to UK consumers.
Every year Britons eat 159 million kg of bacon – worth almost £1 billion in retail sales.
The first packets of Naked Bacon will be available in Marks and Spencer on January 10th 2018, while Naked Ham launches on January 15th.
Kirsty Adams, Marks and Spencer: "We know that our customers care about their health and are increasingly looking for healthier options for themselves and their families.
“ We have worked closely with Finnebrogue throughout their innovation on Nitrite Free bacon, to ensure our own brand recipe is a fantastic tasting bacon without compromise on flavour - as our customers would expect.
“We are very excited to be the first to launch an own brand with a back and streaky bacon, and will be looking to follow this up with cooked hams in the very near future."
Denis Lynn, Finnebrogue chairman, added “I’ve been all over the world to figure out a way to make bacon without nitrites – and up to now we’d never made a single rasher of bacon because we couldn’t work out how to do it.
“Our Naked Bacon is not only safer than any other bacon on the market, it also tops the charts in blind taste tests.”