Repelling the porcine invasion

George Orwell’s Animal Farm inmates mantra: “four legs good two legs bad” has poignant relevance this week. It’s Bacon Week. And it’s all because Aussie pork producers are finding it tough getting their leg in, so to speak, in the domestic ham and bacon stakes.

Some 70 per cent of bacon sold in this country is made from imported frozen, subsidised pig meat. More than $10 million worth of pork imports arrive by boat in Australia every week. And all this off the back of crippling drought and high grain prices that have already caused about 300 local pork producers to leave the industry.

Hence the sizzling Bacon Week attack on the nation’s breakfast tables. Fittingly themed “Bringing Home The bacon”, it is a jingoistic campaign to get some cured Aussie pork on your fork.

Commonly used grocery label terms like ‘Made in Australia’ are pretty vague and can be used on products that can contain imported meat. So the Australian pork producers have united and initiated the PorkMark program of labelling 100 per cent Australian pork products with a pink square Australian Pork label.

“The pink Australian Pork PorkMark is your guarantee of Australian origin,” says Australian Pork Limited’s CEO Andrew Spencer. “Consumers want bacon from God’s country, not God knows where.”

“To date we have 121 butchers and smallgoods manufacturers Australia wide licensed to display the logo on their products.”

Pivotal to Bacon Week… is the bacon. So there was a bacon judging competition to find the best Aussie bacon. It was open to butchers and smallgoods processors who make bacon from 100 per cent Australian Pork.

Each salty rasher was judged raw and cooked on the curing process, aroma, texture, taste and shrinkage. Two of the three man judging panel had broad international experience including working in Michelin starred restaurants and premier teaching institutions while the third, a Fleischmeister holds a Masters degree in Butchering and Smallgoods from Germany.

At the risk of a dud pun, bacon is the soft underbelly of the population’s palate appeal. Tell people you are going to a bacon judging and they almost swoon at the notion of acres of sizzling crispy rashers. Tell them it’s about Australian bacon and they look blankly at you and continue to drool. Hopefully those glazed over eyes will reflect a square pink Australian Pork label in the ensuing months …and drooling will be mandatory.

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