Friday, June 29, 2012

What’s in the sausages we eat?

We love sausages, don’t we?
Billions of people chomping on billions of sausages every year resulting in billions of retail sales, so sausages are essentially a part of our life.
But what is it in those meat sticks that make it so irresistible?

Package labels typically list some type of meat as the primary ingredient, along with water and sometimes other kind of meat.
A group of unconvinced scientists decided to probe the content of several brands of sausages to see whether the labels give an accurate depiction of the sausage's content. By using high-end probing techniques like electron microscopy, routine light microscopy with hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections, special staining and immunohistochemistry the researchers found out that meat isn’t the main ingredient in sausages.

In fact, water comprised 44%~69% of the total weight of a sausage. Meat content ranged from a meagre 2.9%~21.2%. It’s truly heart-breaking to know that most of us pay money to eat a meat product which contains only 2.9% meat. Apart from meat and water, other types of tissue were also detected—bones, collagen, blood vessels, plant material, nerves, adipose, cartilage, and skin.

Even more shocking, electron microscopy detected recognizable skeletal muscles with evidence of degenerative changes. Okay, in layman’s terms it means the microscope detected rotting meat. Yes, sausage lovers, you’re basically munching on rotting carcasses (anyway, who doesn’t?).

The paper was concluded in a rather harsh way, as the scientists condemned sausage labels as misleading. 

Nevermind the water content, I’m glad brain tissues were not detected.

Applying morphologic techniques to evaluate hotdogs: what is in the hotdogs we eat? Prayson BE, McMahon JT, Prayson RA. Ann Diagn Pathol. 2008 Apr;12(2):98-102.

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