Search 
Text larger | smaller
The Food Magazine - Click to return to the home page

Premium sausages fattier than ever

22nd October, 2003

A new survey of sausages finds that the highest quality 'premium' lines have risen in fat content from 15% to 21% since a previous survey in 1991. Salt levels in standard products have also increased.

Just as the barbecue season came to an end, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published the details of its year-long survey of sausages, showing that manufacturers seem determined to increase our fat and salt consumption.

Fattiest premium sausages fat content
Fat content
Asda Aberdeen Angus Beef
33%
Co-op Butchers 8 Select Pork
30%
Marks & Spencer Premium Pork
28%
Safeway Olde English Style Pork
26%

 

Such fatty sausages would provide between a quarter and a third of an adult's entire maximum recommended fat intake for the day in just one portion. The FSA defines a portion as two regular sausages, around 115g raw or 80g after cooking.

If you want to cut the fat, choose products that specifically claim to be low in fat. The lowest levels were in sausages claiming that they had less than 5% fat, including products from Asda, Tesco, Safeway and Bowyers.

Salt levels increased in standard sausages, from 2.2g per portion in 1991 to 2.4g this year. However the low-fat sausages were also lower in salt, typically under 1.8g per portion.

 

Worst offenders salt content
Salt content
Richmond Irish Recipe
2.8%
Walls Thick Pork
2.3%
Sainsbury's Pork
2.3%
Tesco Pork and Beef
2.2%
Iceland Pork and Beef
2.2%
Tesco Vegetarian Lincolnshire
2.2%
Linda McCartney vegetarian
2.1%

 

FSA Programme of mini-surveys: sausages survey (41/03) September 2003. http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk/science/surveillance/fsis-2003/sausagesurveyfsis4103

The search for a healthy sausage

The Food Commission went searching for a healthy, low fat sausage, but found that manufacturers are unable to agree on how to describe the fat content of their sausages.

It should be easy enough: how much fat does this sausage contain? But if you asked the same question of Sainsbury, Iceland or Walls you would get a different answer - even if the product was identical.

Some producers tell you the fat per 100g as sold raw. Others don't give the raw value, but give the amount of fat left in a sausage that has been grilled, or fried, or 'shallow fried' or even 'cooked as instructed'.

And some give the amount per sausage, but the sausage size can vary from a chipolata at around 30g up to 100g 'jumbo'.

If the manufacturers wanted to make it hard to compare products, they could hardly do better. It would be much easier for customers if a standard method were used.

Confused? Perhaps that's what they want!
Manufacturers fail to give comparable values for fat content, making it impossible for consumers to work out which are the healthier sausages
 
Fat content is given for
Belchers
raw
Bernard Matthews per 100g
raw
Bernard Matthews per sausage
cooked
Bowyers
raw
Holland & Barrett meat-free
raw
Iceland fresh
grilled
Iceland frozen sample 1
shallow fried
Iceland frozen sample 2
fried
Iceland frozen sample 3
cooked
Iceland frozen sample 4
grilled
Marks & Spencer
raw
Quorn meat-free
raw
Richmond Irish Recipe
raw
Sainsbury most sorts
grilled
Sainsbury Organic
cooked
Tesco
raw
Walls
raw

 

Cooking the figures

Companies that only give post-cooking figures gain an advantage over those that give figures for raw sausages, as some of the fat is lost in cooking.

Raw 23.2% average fat content

Baked  19.9% average fat content 

Barbecued  18.1% average fat content 

Fried  20.8% average fat content 

Grilled  19.9% average fat content 

Pricked and grilled  18.9% average fat content 

Useful resources

http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk/science/surveillance/fsis-2003/sausagesurveyfsis4103
The Food Standards Agency's survey examining the levels of a limited range of nutrients, including sodium (salt), fat and sugar, in a range of sausages.