Canadian Bacon Facts

Canadian bacon, or back bacon as it is called in Canada and the United Kingdom, is cut from the back of the pig. It is much more like ham than traditional bacon. Traditional bacon comes from the underbelly of the hog and contains considerably more fat. Unlike Canadian bacon, most bacon used in the United States is cured and sometimes even smoked.

What’s the Difference?

Canadian bacon sold and consumed in the U.S. is smoked and precooked. However, Canada uses a totally different product even though both products still come from the back portion of the pig or the loin.

How Is it Prepared?

In Canada, Canadian bacon is not smoked or precooked. It’s cut from lean, boneless pork loins, pickle-cured and rolled in a golden cornmeal. The main difference between Canadian bacon and traditional bacon is in the curing process. In the Canadian’s version, it is only cured. In the U.S., it is cured, smoked and then pan-seared before it is eaten. The real Canadian bacon is also a much leaner product -- the fat is trimmed down to one eighth of an inch.

Another Term for Canadian Bacon

Another term for Canadian bacon is peameal bacon. Again, it’s all in the pre-preparation. In Canada, it is only cured pork loin. The name peameal comes from the fact that this cured pork loin is finished by rolling it in meal – it used to be peameal, but today it is cornmeal. This gives the finished Canadian bacon version a crust. It also gives it a yellow appearance.

Is it Canadian bacon or Canadian-style bacon?

In the United States, the FDA considers both Canadian bacon and Canadian-style bacon to be the same thing. It is the U.S. makers of “Canadian bacon” that use “style” as a branding word. It is an attempt to avoid any confusion with American bacon. There is a large difference in the quality in what the FDA calls “Canadian bacon.” Some are high quality and cured and made in the traditional fashion, while others are injected with nitrates, water and liquid smoke.

Canadian Bacon Resources

If searching for the real Canadian bacon, there are a couple of websites that ship USDA-approved product to the United States. It is more flavorful than “Canadian-style bacon.” See the resources below.