This is a perfect example of why it's important to fully educate oneself. The USDA can't be trusted to always dispense or relay safe and accurate information. In the case of their Bacon and Food Safety webpage, under the question "Can Bacon Be Home Cured?" they provide a link to a page at Missouri Extension Service with bad information. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Bacon_and_Food_Safety/index.asp#5 The instructions say to cure bacon with "nitate" (saltpetre) and that the nitrate (saltpetre) in only optional. This presents a couple of major problems, the USDA discourages the use of nitrate in bacon, it is, in fact, banned in all commercial bacon and when smoking bacon (there's no temperatures specified in the smoking instructions) cure should ALWAYS be used, it's not optional!!!! Some scary stuff coming from what's supposed to be the "be all, end all" authority on such subjects!!! Beware!!!