Bacon bits are a common addition to the salad buffet in America, but not something we tend to use in this country. So I was intrigued to find these in the vegetable aisle at my local supermarket and even more fascinated when I saw there was no mention of bacon on the ingredients label.
Belladotti Salad Toppers Bacon Bits. $4.99 for 100g
Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first)
Wheat flour (contains gluten)
Despite these being called bacon bits, the biggest ingredient in these salad toppers is actually wheat.
Non-hydrogenated palm oil [RSPO]
There are two good things about this palm oil. One is that it is non-hydrogenated, which means the oil has not been treated with heat and chemicals to make it solid at room temperature, so that the oil you are getting is in its natural state.
The other good news is that the palm oil is apparently from a certified, segregated sustainable source. I say "apparently" because despite this being stated on the packet I can't find any certification.
The letters RSPO in brackets represent the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil but the makers of this product are not members according to the website and if they were they should have the appropriate trademark certificate displayed on their packaging. This does not mean there isn't sustainable palm oil in here but as a consumer you can't be sure without the necessary certification.
Breadcrumbs (wheat flour, yeast, salt, oil)
These are basic ingredients for bread, or breadcrumbs in this case.
This will be providing the much-needed meaty flavour in these as there is no mention of bacon on the ingredients list.
Natural food colours (beetroot powder and paprika extract)
Nice to see natural colours being used in here.
Not much sugar in here at all with just 0.25g per 10g serving.
It's hard to work out what is in smoke flavour as some flavourings actually do come from smoke while others are chemical recreations.
This is also known as vinegar and will be in here for a sour flavour.
You'll get 110mg of sodium per 10g serving.
Not sure what kind of yeast is here or why but I'm assuming it is in here for more meaty flavour.
Herb extract (as antioxidant)
This may be rosemary oil, which is a common antioxidant in foods, but I can't be sure without clearer labelling.
Initial reactions to this Australian product were negative, with the family claiming that on the packet they looked like dog food or slug bait. But once persuaded to taste them no one objected to the flavour and in fact I quite liked it.
These could be the gateway drug for vegetarians to eat bacon, but personally I think a lot of vegetarians would enjoy them without turning to eating pork.
My serving suggestion is to toast some Vogels, smear it with avocado then sprinkle these on top. Pile on some pepper or a squeeze of lemon. Or simply put them in your salad as intended by the producer.
The lack of any certification to prove that the palm oil is sustainable is, however, annoying.