Is Finnebrogue Bacon Free Range? An In-Depth Look

As a bacon lover, I’m always on the lookout for high-quality, ethically raised bacon. Recently, I came across Finnebrogue, an artisanal Irish sausage and bacon company. Their products looked great, but I wanted to dig deeper to understand how their bacon is produced. Specifically, I wanted to find out if Finnebrogue bacon meets free range standards.

What Does “Free Range” Mean for Bacon?

For bacon to be considered free range, the pigs it comes from must have access to the outdoors. However, definitions vary by region.

In the EU, free range pigs must have continuous daytime access to pasture during the growing season The pasture area must allow the animals to roam freely and express natural behaviors.

In the US, there are no legal definitions around free range pork. However certified humane free range standards require pigs to have enough space to move around freely access to outdoors or deeply bedded pens, and enrichment materials like straw.

True free range allows pigs to exhibit their natural rooting, wallowing, and foraging behaviors. The more time outdoors on pasture, the better.

How Finnebrogue Bacon Is Produced

After looking into their practices, here is an overview of how Finnebrogue produces their bacon:

  • Sources from select pig farms in Ireland & UK – Finnebrogue uses pork from farmers they have long-standing relationships with.

  • Grain-fed, antibiotic-free – The pigs are fed a vegetarian diet without antibiotics or animal byproducts.

  • Higher welfare indoor housing – The pigs are raised in climate controlled barns with space to move around freely.

  • Outdoor access – Finnebrogue states their pigs have outdoor access, though specifics are not provided.

  • Traditional curing – The pork is cured with a natural fruit and spice extract without artificial nitrates/nitrites.

  • Smoked over beechwood – The bacon is smoked using natural wood chips.

Based on their production methods, Finnebrogue bacon is not 100% free range. The pigs have some outdoor access, but it is unclear if they live outdoors full-time with unlimited pasture access.

Why Isn’t All Bacon Free Range?

While free range standards provide pigs with better welfare, there are some reasons why most commercial bacon does not meet this criteria:

  • Cost – Providing outdoor space and pasture is more expensive for farmers compared to confined barns. This results in higher retail costs.

  • Efficiency – Outdoor systems require more land and labor. Total pork output per pig may be lower.

  • Climate – Temperate regions like Ireland and Northern Europe allow for better outdoor rearing than very hot or cold areas.

  • Disease/predators – There are more health challenges and dangers to pigs living outdoors full time.

  • Regulations – Legal definitions around free range pork are not standardized globally. Lax regulations allow for exploited loopholes.

  • Consumer demand – As most bacon is mass-produced on the cheap, free range is still considered a specialty product. This limits market availability.

So while not currently feasible for mainstream pork, hopefully standards and practices continue to improve with consumer awareness.

How Finnebrogue Compares to Other Bacon Brands

Up against some of the largest bacon brands, Finnebrogue falls somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of commercial versus ethically raised bacon:

  • Mass-produced brands – Big names like Oscar Mayer, Hormel, or Smithfield source from factory farms with intense confinement and use of antibiotics.

  • Slightly better brands – Niman Ranch, Applegate, and Coleman Natural bacon offer antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed pork with better conditions. But still limited outdoor access.

  • Organic – Certified organic brands like Nitrate-free Naked Bacon must allow some outdoor access and use organic feed without antibiotics. But may not be fully pastured.

  • 100% Pastured – Truly free range specialty brands like Eden Farms, Jones Creek Ranch, and White Oak Pastures raise pigs with continuous pasture access. But availability is limited.

So Finnebrogue offers a step up from traditional mass-produced bacon in terms of animal welfare and avoiding artificial ingredients. But true free range options may be preferable for the ethically-minded bacon aficionado.

Is Finnebrogue Bacon a Healthy Choice?

From a health perspective, Finnebrogue bacon has some advantages over regular bacon:

  • No artificial nitrates/nitrites – Reduces cancer risk from these preservatives

  • Natural fruit and spice extract cure – Gives similar taste and shelf life without nitrites

  • Beechwood smoking – Generates smoke naturally vs. artificial smoke flavor

  • Free from allergens – Better for those with food sensitivities

However, it is still a processed red meat high in saturated fat and sodium. The WHO classified processed meats as carcinogenic, so cancer risk may not be fully eliminated even without nitrites.

Overall, occasionally enjoying Finnebrogue bacon as part of a veggie-rich diet is likely fine for most people. But regular high intake may still carry health risks.

The Verdict on Finnebrogue Bacon

After reviewing how their bacon is produced, I would conclude that Finnebrogue does not quite meet free range standards. However, their pigs have reasonably good welfare and outdoor access compared to industrial confinement operations.

For shoppers specifically seeking free range bacon, specialty pastured brands may be the way to go. But Finnebrogue offers a nitrite-free, minimally processed option that balances meat quality and safety with more sustainable practices.

Their bacon has some impressive innovations around avoiding artificial ingredients while maintaining texture and taste. This makes Finnebrogue a standout among commercial bacon brands focused on quality, ethics, and taste.

While not perfect, Finnebrogue represents admirable progress. With increased consumer demand for food transparency and sustainability, hopefully more bacon producers will continue improving welfare and practices. In the meantime, Finnebrogue looks like a tasty choice for bacon lovers wanting a better breakfast meat.

Finnebrogue Naked Without Oink Vegan Plant Based Bacon Taste Test


Is Finnebrogue bacon healthy?

“Finnebrogue have used a combination of innovation and natural fruit and spice extracts to come up with a bacon that is made without the need for added nitrites. Nitro containing compounds, used in the manufacture of traditional bacons, are known to cause the formation of chemicals that have negative health impacts.

What brands of bacon are nitrate free?

Most big stores do now offer an own-brand nitrate-free bacon. In my local I can also find one ring of nitrite-free chorizo, Unearthed’s prosciutto and serrano hams, and Finnebrogue Naked’s nitrate-free bacon and ham. Finnebrogue Naked’s bacon is among the most expensive per kilo.

How do you know if bacon is nitrate free?

There has also been an explosion of products labeled as “nitrate free bacon” and “nitrite free bacon” in the market over the same time period. All bacon is nitrate free bacon. Most bacon contains nitrites, not nitrates. Due to USDA labeling requirements, nitrite free bacon has been labeled as “uncured bacon.”

Can I buy bacon without nitrates?

Our bacon is cured without Nitrites. Instead we use Himalayan Salt for our cure, giving the bacon a beautiful taste without the addition of nitrites to your meal. If you have any specific requirements, please let us know in the space provided. The weights are an average, and may vary.

Is Finnebrogue the UK’s biggest Bacon brand?

As well as supplying most of the UK’s major supermarkets under their own private labels, Finnebrogue’s own Naked brand has been a huge success story since it launched in 2018. Naked Bacon is now Britain’s biggest bacon brand.

Is Finnebrogue a meat-free brand?

Finnebrogue Introducing our delicious new Naked plant-based range… If you’ve been following our Naked brand for a while, you’ll know that we believe in producing gorgeous food that is good for you and for the planet. When we set about tackling the meat-free category, this was our top priority.

Are Finnebrogue sausages nitrite-free?

The brand has rolled out two new sausage recipes to support gut health – including a first-ever chicken sausage, its first-ever nitrite-free frankfurter and a thick-cut bacon steak. Finnebrogue ’s new Chicken, Garlic & Herb Chipolatas are made with British chicken and do not contain any artificial additives.

Does Finnebrogue have a nitrate-free Frankfurter?

The brand has launched two new sausage recipes to support gut health, its first ever nitrate-free frankfurter and a thick-cut bacon steak Finnebrogue has expanded its Naked range with four new products launched in October.

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