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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

So what exactly are supermarket sausages made up of? Often the main ingredient, which is meant to be meat, accounts for less than 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 meat” it could be anything including, beef, beef heart, chicken, pork. 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 a 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 8% saturated fat.
  4. Beware of sodium and pick a sausage that contains less than 450mg of sodium per serving. 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 flavor and color while keeping costs down. Typical additives include sugar, yeast extract, natural roast beef flavor and smoke flavor. Common preservatives include sulphur dioxide, sodium and potassium sulphites. Sulphites can cause symptoms in children who are sensitive to sulphites such as asthma attacks, hay fever and hives.
  6. Empty fillers should also be avoided, these typically include soy, maize, maltodextrin (sugar), hydrolyzed vegetable protein, potato and tapioca starch, and 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.  However, a good option if sausages are a family favourite is to 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 favorite food and can appear on the menu twice weekly – it’s the only way parents can get meat into them! So, if you’re 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 Wholesome Child cookbook we offer simple mealtime solutions without the struggle.

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