Bacon Glossary


Below are definitions related to bacon, including bacon made from meat other than pork.

BACON: General Definition

  • The term bacon is used to describe the cured pork belly, from the ‘belly’ or ‘side’ primal cut of pork. In other parts of the world, bacon may come from different cuts. If meat from other portions of the carcass is used, the product name must be qualified to identify the portions, e.g., Pork Shoulder Bacon. “Certified” refers to products that have been treated for trichinae, the roundworm that causes trichinosis.
  • Although bacon is made famous from pork meat, bacon may also from other animal meat: beef, goat, etc.


  • Product which is identified as Arkansas Bacon or Arkansas Style Bacon is produced from the pork shoulder blade Boston roast.  The pork shoulder blade Boston roast includes the porcine muscle, fat and bone, cut interior of the second or third thoracic vertebrae, and posterior of the atlas joint (first cervical vertebrae), and dorsal of the center of the humerus bone.
  • Arkansas Bacon – the neck bones and rib bones are removed by cutting close to the underside of those bones. The blade bone (scapula) and the dorsal fat covering, including the skin (clear plate), are removed, leaving no more than one-quarter inch of the fat covering the roast.  The meat is then dry cured with salt, sugar, nitrites, and spices, and smoked with natural smoke. The meat may not be injected or soaked in curing brine, nor may any artificial or liquid smoke be applied to the meat.
  • Product that is prepared outside the state of Arkansas but in the manner prescribed may be identified as Arkansas Style Bacon. The true product name must be shown as “Boneless Cured Pork Shoulder Butt.


  • Bacon coming from the loin cut. This is more meaty, less fatty, with a ham-like texture.

BACON (Canned – Pasteurized)

  • A shelf stable item, which must have at least 7 percent brine concentration.

BACON (Canned, Prefried)

  • In “Canned Prefried Bacon,” e.g., Bacon Crumbles, the following criteria should be applied:
    1. M/SP Index of 0.4 or more.  M/SP = Moisture/(Salt x Protein)
    2. A Brine Ratio of 9.0 or less.  Brine Ratio = Moisture/Salt
    3. A Brine concentration of 10 percent or more.  Brine concentration = Salt/(Moisture +Salt)
    4. Maximum 40 percent yield

BACON (Cooked)

  • Not to yield more than 40 percent bacon – 60 percent shrink required. BHA and BHT may be used as antioxidants in precooked bacon at level of 0.01 percent individually or 0.02 percent collectively, based on fat content. TBHQ can be used in products as an antioxidant in combination with BHT and BHA; but it can not be used alone except in cooked bacon.


  • Product is formulated with a high percentage of bacon (usually bacon ends and pieces) with at least 20 percent pork.


  • Bacon-like products, including poultry bacon, labeled with bacon in the name must follow the same requirements as those applied to pork bacon.  These requirements include, but are not limited to, limits on restricted ingredients and the requirement that the bacon must return to green weight.
  • Beef bacon is a cured and smoke d beef product sliced to simulate regular bacon. It is prepared from various beef cuts and offered with a variety of coined names, including Breakfast Beef, Beef Bacon, etc. A common or usual name is required, such as Cured and Smoked Beef Plate, and should be shown contiguous to the coined name.
  • Poultry bacon products are acceptable and may be designated as (Kind) Bacon. However, a true descriptive name must appear contiguous to (Kind) Bacon without intervening type or design, in letters at least one-half the size of the letters used in the (Kind) Bacon, and in the same style and color and on the same background. An example of an acceptable designation is Turkey Bacon-Cured Turkey Breast Meat-Chopped and Formed.
  • The descriptive name can serve alone as the product name.


  • Canadian Bacon and Canadian Style Bacon are synonymous and should not be considered geographical terms. The term “Canadian Style Bacon,” when featured on the label as a product name or part of a product name (i.e., as a description, etc.), may stand alone without an additional qualifier indicating the true geographical origin of the product. “Chunked and Formed” and “Water Added” products are permitted, provided proper labeling is applied. Uncooked and/or unsmoked “Canadian Style Bacon” is also permitted, provided labeling describes the product as uncooked and/or unsmoked.
  • Product which is identified as “Canadian Style Bacon” is made from a trimmed boneless pork loin.  On the shoulder end, the cross section of the longissimus dorsi muscle shall be equal to or larger than the combined cross sectional areas of the splenius and semispinalis capitis muscles.  The ham end shall be removed anterior to the ilium.  The exposed faces shall be approximately perpendicular with the skin surface.  The dorsal and ventral side on each end of the Canadian Style Bacon shall not be more than 1.0 inch different in length.  The belly is removed adjacent to the longissimus dorsi muscle.  All bones and cartilage shall be removed.  The tenderloin and the flesh overlying the blade bone are excluded.  The surface fat (and false lean when necessary) shall be trimmed to 0.3 inches thick at any point.  The fat on the ventral and dorsal sides is neatly beveled to meet the lean.


  • The sirloin is obtained by removing a 5- to 7-inch section of the pork loin immediately in front of the hip or pelvic bone. The sirloin hip is obtained by removing the half of the sirloin which comprises the posterior end of the pork loin.  The tenderloin is not included and surface fat shall be trimmed to 0.3 inches in thickness. The labeling for these Canadian Style Bacon products must bear a qualifying statement, adjacent to the product name, clarifying that pork sirloin hips are included or that the product is made entirely from pork sirloin hips, e.g., Canadian Style Bacon–Includes Pork Sirloin Hips or  Canadian Style Bacon–Made from Pork Sirloin Hips.  The smallest letter in the qualifier should not be less than one-third the size of the largest letter in the product name.  The qualifier must be of equal prominence to the product name. Chunked (or chopped) and formed varieties and substances controlled by the protein fat free (PFF) regulation for cured pork products 9 CFR 319.104 shall be labeled in accordance with applicable guidelines. Use of this type of product in a secondary product, e.g., a pizza, requires complete identification only in the ingredients statement; the product name of the secondary product need only refer to Canadian Style Bacon


  • Bacon from the hind leg of pork, cut from a side of bacon after curing, which also may or may not be smoked.


  • Bacon made from pork cheeks.


  • Italian bacon made from pork belly meat. It is salt cured and spiced, and comes in two forms: rolled, arrotolata, or flat, stesa.


  • Thin slice of bacon.


  • Side of bacon that isn’t sliced.


Some definitions adapted from Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book, USDA.


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