September 9, 2010 4:33 PM   Subscribe

What is wrong with this bacon? (High-res scan inside)

Here is the 5360 x 2938 pixel blowup.

We opened up a pack of smoked bacon bought through our co-op; it came from a small producer in-state. The ingredients are basically pork bellies, salt, sodium nitrite, and propylene glycol. The bacon did sit out for several hours until I had a chance to scan it but it looks about the same.

Please no general speculation about worms or trichinosis... I studied parasitology just a little bit years ago but am not entirely sure that's what this is; on the other hand you may know something more than I do.

It won't get eaten and we probably won't buy from them again but we're still curious what's going on, in case anyone here is experienced with butchering, culinary arts, veterinary background, baconology, etc. Could this be something having to do with the smoking process or meat not properly bled out? (Are there veins in the fatty tissue?)
posted by crapmatic to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking at the dark spots in the fat? I would say that looks like blood vessels, meaning the pig was inadequately bled before butchering. I could be wrong, though, I'm not some sort of slaughter expert.
posted by KathrynT at 5:02 PM on September 9, 2010

I've butchered a few hogs and made my own bacon several times and never seen anything like that. I've also never used propylene glycol and I'm surprised a local producer would (many don't even use nitrates\nitrites.) I can't help you other than to say find another producer. Maybe this guy will have some answers (he pretty much wrote the book on this sort of thing.)
posted by sanko at 5:23 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would say that it looks improperly bled/slaughtered. There are blood vessels in fatty tissue, so that the blood can deposit or take up the energy stored in the fat.

The green spots are what freak me out. Looks like flat out rot to me.
posted by gjc at 5:34 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Green + Meat = Not Good.

Pitch it.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:11 PM on September 9, 2010

They look like the pork was hung on rusty hooks.

Notice the regularity of the marks, and the brown/green tinge to some of them. If they were hung on hooks that had corrosion or mold on them, that would've been driven into the meat.
posted by Quadlex at 8:40 PM on September 9, 2010

Green doesn't always mean bad when it comes to meat, Short Attention Sp. My mother was a butcher and would often remark that most "green" meat is actually meat that has been allowed to sit on top of other meat, like steaks that are layered without paper between them. Perfectly alright to eat, just not pretty and red anymore.
posted by aristan at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2010

Have you gotten bacon from these people before? Has it looked like this before? I'm no bacon expert, but it is possible that this is what "real" non supermarket bacon looks like. Or that it is still perfectly fine to eat. But like I said, I don't even eat bacon so I may not even know what I'm talking about.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 9:22 PM on September 9, 2010

Food scientist friend says it looks like it could be mold. Specifically on the left hand side of the top one those greenish yellow spots look like mold. Friend also thinks there may be some yeast there, which is also bad.

So basically, yeah, don't eat it, might be something from the smoking process.
posted by DMan at 9:31 PM on September 9, 2010

I'm going to go with Quadlex's answer about contaminated hooks. That spacing looks just like the hooks you use to hang bacon in a smokehouse.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:28 PM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all. I'll check the replies again in the morning but this has provided some interesting answers.
posted by crapmatic at 3:00 AM on September 10, 2010

Not an expert, so this is more than a bit speculative, but it may be helpful. Bacon is often injected with curing solution (brine/nitrites/etc) via multi-needle systems. Reference for one way of doing it under "process" here. If the needles used on your bacon were dirty, corroded, or carrying bacteria/mold, it might explain the spots.
posted by Ahab at 4:10 AM on September 10, 2010

Propylene glycol is not something you should consume. Seriously, what was this guy thinking? Get your bleepin' money back!
posted by Citrus at 8:39 AM on September 10, 2010

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