Whole Foods
Some food manufacturers have reformulated products to meet standards required by the Whole30 meal plan.

Tucson, Arizona-based DNX Foods is the latest company to be authorized to use the Whole30-Approved seal. The designation can now be found on the company’s reformulated nutrient-dense line of grass-fed beef and bison bars.

Whole30 is a 30-day nutrition reset eating plan designed to help put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract and balance the immune system. Created in 2009, Whole30 has helped millions of people change their health, habits and relationship with food. Meat and poultry are a prominent component of this elimination diet that excludes grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, sweeteners and specific controversial ingredients, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and carrageenan.

Several food manufacturers have reformulated products to meet Whole30 standards, co-creator Melissa Hartwig recently told Food Business News editor Monica Watrous (Food Business News is a sister publication to MEAT+POULTRY). One is Applegate, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minnesota, which earlier this year launched a Whole30 compliant sugar-free bacon.

Another example is the DNX bars, which combine 10 to 14 grams of 100 percent grass-fed meat protein with organic fruits and vegetables. The 1.5-oz. shelf-stable bars are non-GMO, free of gluten, soy, MSG, dairy, and added sugar. The meat is sourced from beef and bison raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones.

DNX meat snack bars
DNX Foods reformulated its bars to remove honey as a binder and flavoring agent.

Hartwig serves on the DNX Advisory Board and said, “Given today’s busy, modern lifestyle, I’m always on the lookout for convenience foods that meet Whole30’s incredibly high standards for ingredients and sourcing. I’ve loved DNX bars from the start and have enjoyed contributing to their Board, but when they told me they were planning to reformulate their ingredients specifically to serve my community, I knew I had chosen well. I am so excited to share their mission and amazing-tasting bars with the Whole30 community. I just hope they’re prepared for the demand.”

About 70 companies have become Whole30 Approved partners, a designation indicating some or all of a brand’s products meet the rigorous standards of the Whole30 program.

When discussing the verification process, Hartwig toldFood Business News, “We’re looking for, obviously, it has no added sugars, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy, no legumes. We’re making sure if it has animal protein that it is sustainably and responsibly sourced, so we’re looking for organic, pastured, grass-fed, where applicable.

“Then we’re looking at how engaged are you with our community? How engaged are you with your community? How willing are you to work with us and perhaps make changes to your web site or product ingredient list to serve our community?”

Applegate uncured sugar-free bacon
The Whole30 verification does not allow for any added sugars in food products.

In order for Applegate to be verified for its bacon, it had to eliminate the less than 2 percent cane sugar used in the natural curing process. There’s so little sugar in most bacon that it does not even appear on the Nutrition Facts. Still, the Whole30 verification process does not allow for any added sugars.

For the DNX bars, honey was the culprit. It was used as a binding agent, for flavor and slight sweetness. It took about six months for the product development team to identify the perfect mix of ingredients to get honey out of the formula. This included the addition of dates, a common binder in meat sticks, and the addition of some naturally sweet fruits and vegetables.

The DNX Bars are priced at about $2.99 each and come in five varieties. They are: Dark Cacao Cherry Coconut, Fennel Sweet Potato, Jamaican Style. Mexican Style and Sweet Potato Pecan.

In addition to prepared foods in the marketplace working towards Whole30 verification, there are ample Whole30 compliant recipes that make meat and poultry the star. Processors can get involved and offer serving suggestions and meal ideas to keep their proteins relevant. With dairy and legumes forbidden from the diet plan, animal protein is very important to the growing number of consumers using Whole30 as a dietary reboot.