Where To Go Now: Leon

Naturally Fast Food brand LEON is the UK’s first to serve a new ‘healthier bacon’, completely free of cancer-causing nitrites, in its restaurants.

In what is believed to be a world’s first, all bacon products sold in LEON restaurants are nitrite free, thanks to a collaboration with Naked Bacon, a range of bacon created by Northern Irish food producer Finnebrogue Artisan.

The bacon has been available in UK supermarkets for the past two years; however, LEON is leading the way as the first restaurant brand to provide healthier bacon on the high street, without compromising on taste and appearance.

The partnership is intrinsic to the LEON mission to make it easier for everyone to eat well and live well, which has been at the heart of the business since it launched in 2004.

Nitrites are traditionally used to cure bacon and ham, but there is widespread support within the scientific community that these chemicals produce carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach when the meat is cooked and ingested.

The World Health Organisation has directly linked the consumption of nitrite-cured meat to colorectal cancer.

Nitrites have only ever been used because there has not been an alternative. They have been required to preserve the meat and to keep it pink – a colour that appeals to buyers. Naked Bacon is “made without nitrites or any other nasties”.

The launch is also an opportunity to dive deeper into the ‘unknown nitrite issue’ for people, and the wider work LEON is doing to change the industry and grow its rewilding commitments to save the human and the environment.


LEON has produced a short film in partnership with Naked Bacon presented by chef and YouTube personality John Quilter (aka Food Busker) which examines the issue in more depth and is available to watch on their website at leon.co/leonpresents

John Vincent, CEO of LEON Restaurants said, “For both emotional and rational reasons I have become intensely focussed on saving the human and the environment. The benefits of removing nitrites from processed meats are that we can reduce the rates of colorectal cancer in the UK by up to 20 per cent, ease the strain on our National Health Service and help the UK take a lead in making some of the safest food anywhere on the planet.

“Partnering with Finnebrogue Artisan to become the UK’s first restaurants to launch nitrite-free bacon brings our ‘from farms we trust’ principle to life and helps us celebrate the work of our valued suppliers.”


Denis Lynn, chairman of Finnebrogue Artisan, commented: “When we first launched Naked Bacon, our goal was to kick-start a nitrite-free revolution. LEON becoming the first restaurant chain in the world to go nitrite-free is a huge step on the way to removing these chemicals from all processed meats, wherever they may be.

 “The demand for nitrite-free alternatives is growing at pace as consumers recognise you can have a delicious rasher without them, with no compromise on flavour or appearance. Finnebrogue is thrilled to partner with LEON, a business that shares our values and our determination to make food the best it can possibly be, without being bound by the way it’s always been done.”


Professor Chris Elliott OBE, chair of the Institute of Global Food Security, commented“I am absolutely delighted to hear that LEON restaurants have taken the bold step to go nitrite-free in the bacon they sell. I believe this to be a world’s first in terms of such an offering and very much hope they are trend setters for the rest of the fast food industry and beyond. 

“The work we have conducted on nitrite-cured processed meats at the Institute of Global Food Security points to this offering from Leon providing a safer product for consumers.”


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