World-first pigs in blankets free of cancer-causing nitrites served up
24th November 2020

EXCLUSIVE: Bacon firm creates the world’s first ever pigs in blankets made without cancer-causing nitrites as they prepare to go on sale in Waitrose

  • Secret project to make the new festive snacks started back in April this year
  • They are free of cancer-causing nitrite chemical compound found in some meat
  • Makers Finnebrogue Artisan have made 32 million ready for Christmas plates 

A food firm has created the world’s first pigs in blankets free of cancer-causing nitrites – and British shoppers will try them before anyone else.

The Christmas snacks, made up of chipolata sausages and bacon, have been secretly in production since April.

But new technology has let makers Finnebrogue Artisan produce them without any nitrites or artificial additives.

The system no longer uses the carcinogenic chemicals traditionally used to cure the meat.

It will come as a boost for consumers worried about their health following the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The World Health Organisation have made a direct link between nitrites in processed meats and the development of colorectal cancer. 

The new pigs in blankets will be available to British shoppers before anyone else in the world

The world’s first pigs in blankets free of cancer-causing nitrites have been created this year

Bacon used to wrap the sausages for the snack are free of nitrites, a chemical linked to cancer

A total of 32 million of the new pigs in blankets have been handmade in secret since April

A huge 32 million of the new pigs in blankets have been handmade and will be available to buy in Waitrose this weekend. 

In addition to the nitrite-free element, there are also no artificial additives in the sausage part of the festive treat.

Denis Lynn, Chairman of Finnebrogue Artisan, commented: ‘Millions of us love pigs in blankets as part of our Christmas lunch, but until now the bacon used to wrap the sausages has been packed full of nitrites.

‘Everything we do at Finnebrogue is about making food the best it can possibly be, without being bound by the way it’s always been done. 

Staff numbering 800 have been hard at work making sure the new product is ready on time

Workers wrap the artificial additives-free chipolatas by hand before they are packaged up

The staff worked during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure the project was ready to go

The new Christmas snacks will go on sale at Waitrose this weekend, costing around £4.49

Nitrates and Nitrites: What is the difference from similarly named chemical compound?

Nitrates and nitrites are two different types of chemical compound and despite similar names have different properties

Nitrates are inert and considered safe but when a reaction is caused – like being added to brine – they can be changed into more problematic nitrites  

There is a growing consensus of scientific opinion that nitrites produce carcinogenic nitrosamines when they are added to meat and ingested. 

Experts have drawn a direct link between the consumption of nitrite-cured meat and bowel cancer.  

‘Our team has been working flat out to adapt our nitrite-free technology so it can be used to produce delicious pigs in blankets without any of the nasty chemicals – and amazingly they’ve cracked it. 

‘We hope our Naked Pigs in Blankets will bring a little extra cheer to lunches up and down the nation this Christmas.’ 

Nitrates on their own are generally safe, but it is when they are turned into nitrites that they become more dangerous.

As well as the WHO, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have also established a ‘strongest link yet’ between nitrates in processed meat products and cancer risk

And Professor Chris Elliott, the UK’s top food scientist, has welcomed the creation of safer nitrite-free bacon.

He said: ‘To have a bacon produced naturally, that doesn’t require such chemicals to be added or formed during processing, is a very welcome development.’

Production of the new pigs in blankets – expected to retail for around £4.49 – started back in April.

More than 800 staff worked through the coronavirus pandemic to deliver the snack in time for Christmas.

The small snacks are a staple of Christmas dinner with a survey in 2017 carried out by musclefood voting them revellers’ favourite part of the meal.

Over 40 per cent of people who took part said they were their best-loved bites, forcing turkey into second place with just 17 per cent of the poll.

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