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Your bacon questions answered

image copyrightPA
image captionBacon has now been placed in the same category as plutonium

You might wrap your sausages in it, put a burger under it, or just put it in a fluffy roll with a bit of brown sauce.

Well it seems those pleasures come with a risk, as the World Health organisation says bacon, along with all other processed meats, do cause cancer.

It claims less than two rashers a day increase your chances of getting some types of cancer by 18%.

So if you're now hesitating by the frying pan, here are common questions about bacon answered.

Is bacon red meat?

Bacon (pork) does fall under the red meat category, along with beef, goat, venison, veal and lamb.

Red meats can be part of a healthy diet, but eating a lot of it probably increases your chances of getting bowel cancer according to the NHS.

The Department of Health suggests people keep their amount of red meat down to 70 grams a day. A quarter pounder burger weighs more the 100 grams.

Is turkey bacon healthier?

Turkey bacon is viewed as a healthier alternative because it contains fewer calories and saturated fat.

But some experts say it's heavily processed to add fat and bacon flavouring, which if you ask the World Health Organisation, would cancel out those benefits.

image copyrightJames Waterhouse
image captionTurkey bacon or real bacon? (It's turkey)
image copyrightJames Waterhouse

How is bacon made?

After being cut from either the belly or back of a pig, large amounts of salt, and sometimes sugar are then added to it, which changes the colour and flavour. It can then be dried for weeks in cold air, or it might be boiled or smoked.

Boiled bacon is usually ready to eat, otherwise it's typically grilled or fried.

Why is bacon called bacon?

For this we've spoken to a spokesman from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB):

"The word Bacon derives originally from the Old High German 'bacho', meaning "buttock", which in turn derived from the Proto-Germanic 'backoz', meaning 'back'.

"By the 14th century, it found its way into Old French as 'bacun', meaning 'back meat'. And by the 16th century, it found its way into Middle English as 'bacoun', which referred to all cured pork, not just the back meat."

Is smoked bacon worse for you than unsmoked bacon?

We're going to need the AHDB spokesman again for this...

"Neither smoky bacon or unsmoked is 'bad for you' as part of a balanced diet.

"The average person in the UK eats around 17g a day and so would have to eat three times as much as they currently do to increase their risk."

image copyrightJames Waterhouse

Is bacon actually bad for you?

OK a bacon sandwich is not as bad as smoking, in the world 34,000 people die every year from a high processed food diet, compared with one million deaths because of alcohol.

Overall, some meats contain more fats that others, and bacon is one of those meats. Eating a lot of it will raise your cholesterol levels, and therefore your risk of heart disease.

Today's report by the World Health Organisation won't help one of our favourite meats shrug off its risky label either.

But there is bacon advice out there - the more white you can see on it the more fat there is. So try to go for back bacon as it contains less fat than streaky bacon.

Sarnie, anyone?

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