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Dry cure bacon (sliced) shelf life lab testing


Wade
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Preemptive caveat: The bacterial content of your bacon will depend on the production environment in which you produce it. 

For anyone selling their food products commercially, as part of their regular interaction with local environmental health officers we have to prove the safety of our products and undergo shelf life testing. One of the questions that I often get asked by home dry cured bacon producers is how long will my bacon last once it has been produced. The answer I give is the one described by the US FDA (up to a week for sliced bacon at <= 4 C, and up to 6 weeks for unsliced bacon at <= 4 C), however this in itself contains a safety margin. To help reassure you about storing your bacon I have shared below some recent lab testing results for my dry cure bacon that has been sliced and packaged.

This back bacon was produced

  • Using a cure that provided 2.5% salt and 1.25% sugar. Lemon pepper was applied at a rate of 1%
  • Cured at 3 C for 14 days
  • Smoked at 10-14 C for 18 hours using hickory - hook hung in smoker
  • Sliced using a "3 setting" on the slicer
  • Vacuum packed and stored at <=4 C

1146814816_Slicedbacontestresults1.thumb.JPG.115ac18bd31a47bb6160136dbe6d6eaa.JPG

1006542410_Slicedbacontestresults2.thumb.JPG.35c678a64d5c8bd88f068b99178fb3a2.JPG

These results  indicate that, even when sliced, the dry cured bacon is potentially safe up to 28 days - and possibly beyond.

Despite these results, our formal advice will still be in line with the US and European guidelines - that you should eat your sliced bacon within a week unless you store it frozen.

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