You’d have thought it finding out the minimum legal requirements for ingredients in a pork sausage – lean meat, connective tissue, fat and other stuff such as rusk, seasonings and water – would be a doddle. Nothing to it. Hah!
Back in 2007 the minimum meat content of a British pork sausage used to be 60%, and of that 60% only 50% need be lean meat, in other words 30% of the total sausage. Let’s say your banger was 9 cm long, the first 3 cm was meat. And the other 6 cm? Exactly. Bits of pig that you probably didn’t want to think about and rusk and water, lots of water. Water is cheap, even cheaper than fat which is cheaper that rind, snout, trotter and sinew.The figures for non-pork sausages were even more depressing..
But I have a feeling that maybe things have changed for the better, thanks to some tubby Euro commissioners. Many of your European sausage makers take pride in their products, make them to exacting local recipes, and their consumers and tubby commissioners won’t put up with the kind of rubbish we used to tolerate in the UK.
But actually tracking down official details of what is really allowed to go into our British bangers is proving rather testing.
First I spent several tedious hours searching online for the answer. The only remotely relevant official material was contained in the Food Standards Manual 2017. It might have been more helpful if I could have decoded the dense, abstruse language. I had an idea of what it’s onabout, but I wanted to make sure. The obvious thing to do was to check with a human being. So I tried to ring the local Trading Standards in Gloucester, but I couldn’t because they didn’t have a number that I could find. The web site gave a central number for the Citizens Advice Bureau (03454 04 05 06 if you’re interested). A nice young woman then referred me to the Food Standards Agency . Four phone calls later, the nice young woman at the FSA suggested I contacted the Meat Team. When I got hold of a nice young woman on the Meat Team, she said I should talk to their press office, and gave me another number to call. I called it, and yet another nice young woman suggested that perhaps I should talk to DEFRA as it was matter of labelling, wasn’t it? But she said she would look into it for me, and either would find the answers I wanted, or would find someone who would.
So I gave her my email address. On a belt and braces basis, I’ve also sent emails to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. I’m sure that someone reading this blog can illuminate me. You can’t have too much help, can you? In the meantime I wait with bated breath I’ll let you know how I get on.
A reply from the FSA within an hour of contacting them, which is really quick
Thanks for your email.
This information would be the remit of Defra who are in charge of product labelling. Their press office will be able to help you.
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Now I know who not to ask. But what does Food Standards Agency stand for if not for monitoring what goes into the food we eat? Call me old fashioned, but it seems to me that the contents of a sausage isn’t simply a matter of labelling. It’s a matter what actually goes into them., ie the standards they’re supposed to observe. Oh well.