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Six Ways to Choose a Healthier Sausage

Posted by Mandy Sacher on August 10, 2016

Posted by Mandy Sacher on August 10, 2016

A few months ago on a current affair the humble supermarket sausage was investigated and the outcome was pretty bleak.

In the Wholesome Child Lunchbox Solutions Workshop I go into detail about why we should not be giving our children processed meat such as sausages – and it was wonderful to see it being backed by mainstream media.

So what exactly are supermarket sausages made up of? Often the main ingredient, which is meant to be meat, accounts for less that 70% of the actual sausage (government stipulation is that it has to contain more than 66% protein), however up to 50% of this can be pure fat. So the average sausage, which parents think is a great protein hit for their children, may only contain a third of the protein – not to mention fillers, preservatives and other unwanted ingredients which can account for over 50% of the sausage.

What to look out for?

  1. What type of meat is in your sausage? If the nutrition panels says “meat” or “sausage meal” it could be anything including, buffalo, camel and rabbit. If you are purchasing a beef sausage and you want to be sure it contains only beef, then it needs to say “beef meat” as the first ingredient. The same applies for chicken, pork or lamb sausages.
  2. Choose a sausage with as high percentage of meat as possible. Look for a sausage containing a minimum of 85% meat, with over 90% being ideal.
  3. Look for a sausage that contains less than 5% saturated fat.
  4. Beware of sodium, pick a sausage that contains less than 450mg of sodium per 100g. There are no regulations limiting the level of sodium in sausages and this can be extremely harmful to young children.
  5. Avoid sausages which contain additives and preservatives which act to prevent bacteria growth and enhance flavour and colour while keeping costs down. Typical additives include sugar, yeast extract, natural roast beef flavour and smoke flavour. Common preservatives include sulphur dioxide (220), sodium and potassium sulphites (221-225 and 228). Sulphites can cause symptoms in children who are sensitive to sulphites such as asthma attacks, hayfever and hives.
  6. Empty fillers should also be avoided, these typically include soy, maize, maltodextrine (sugar), hydrolysed vegetable protein, potato and tapioca starch, and rusk (wheat). These fillers are commonly used to add bulk to mass-produced sausages which are sold by weight.

So is there such thing as a healthy sausage?

Okay, a long list of things to avoid has been presented and it seems very hard to find a sausage that measures up, right? Wrong, in my local IGA and at healthfood stores there’s a delicious packaged sausage which lives up to all these stipulations but even better it contains 92% beef, no fillers, no preservatives, no sugar. 5.5% saturated fat and 123mg of sodium… it’s gluten-free, fodmap-friendly and my kids LOVE it. It’s called Lewis and Son Natural Viennas.

Another good option from supermarkets includes the All Natural Sausage Company Italian Sausages, or choose a 100% grass fed beef sausage from an organic butcher or a butcher that you can trust – ask the right questions? Are their fillers, preservatives, nitrates, is it gluten free?

Evidence shows that eating one sausage daily can increase cancer risks by up to 20%. There is a strong link between processed meat, red meat and colorectal cancer. The Cancer Council advises limiting or avoiding processed meats such as sausages, frankfurts, salami, bacon and ham to once fortnightly. However for many fussy eaters, who are lacking zinc, iron and B12, sausages are a favourite food and can appear on the menu twice weekly – it’s the only way parents can get meat into them! So if you are struggling with a fussy eater then please try to choose a good quality sausage wherever possible.

Small changes to your child’s diet can result in big changes, in the upcoming Wholesome Child Cookbook we offer simple mealtime solutions without the struggle.

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