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Twenty Percent of Sausages Contained Ingredients Not On Label

There is an old adage, “you don’t want to see how the sausage is made,” that captures how this meat product is viewed by the general public. The filling in particular is viewed as being composed of less desirable cuts of meat that are ground and hidden in order to hide their origin.

Of course, modern food safety regulations in theory should remove much of the mystery surrounding the contents of a prepackaged sausage, but a federal study in Canada revealed that the sausage making process is still rife with fraud and contamination. CBC reports that 20 percent of the sausages tested in Canada contained meat products not listed on the ingredient list.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) characterized the labeling as being so inaccurate as to constitute food fraud, but it is no surprise that sausage still lives up to its mystery meat reputation. The lead author, Robert Hanner, of the Canadian study had conducted similar research into the contents of European sausages. In that study, the results were even more disturbing. He found in some cases that beef had been completely replaced with horse and 70 percent of the sausages contained unlisted ingredients.

The evidence is pretty cut-and-dry: Processed meats will raise your cancer risk. So I suggest you keep these foods to a very minimum in your diet, if you choose to eat them at all. Now, if you are going to eat bacon, sausage, ham or so forth once in a while, here are some tips to make them somewhat less harmful.

  • Choose organic meats that are grass fed or free-range
  • Look for "uncured" varieties that contain NO nitrates
  • Choose varieties that say “100% beef,” “100% chicken” or similar labeling indicating the product is wholly just the meat you’re purchasing. This is the only way to know that the meat is from a single species and does not include byproducts (like chicken skin or chicken fat)
  • Avoid any meat that contains MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavor or artificial color
  • Ideally, purchase sausages and other processed meats from a small, local farmer who can answer questions about the ingredients

Again, these are still not ideal as they are still processed, but they are better than the vast majority of processed meats on the market. 

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