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'Nothing wrong' with sausages boasting 125 percent meat

'Nothing wrong' with sausages boasting 125 percent meat

Published: 09 Nov 2011 14:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Nov 2011 14:52 GMT+01:00

A charcuterie in northern Sweden which offers several sausage varieties purporting to contain up to 125 percent meat has defended its labeling by arguing that it is simply “following the law”, despite consumer complaints.

“To make 100 grammes of sausage, we use 104 grammes of meat,” Åke Thuresson, head of sales at Trångsvikens Chark AB in northern Sweden, told The Local.

The charcuterie offers several specialty sausages, including “Wild Elk” (Älg Vilde) and “Wild Reindeer” (Ren Vilde), which bear labels showing that the products contain 104 percent meat.

The “104 percent meat” label prompted one man to file a complaint with the Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) earlier this year.

“Personally I can’t accept that anything contains over 100 percent. And this sausage couldn’t possibly contain more than 100 percent meat as there are other ingredients stated on the label,” the man wrote in his complaint.

But according to Thuresson, the seemingly impossible labeling is required by law.

“If we say there is less than 104 percent meat, we wouldn't be following established regulations, which require us to use percentages," he explained.

He added that Trångsvikens Chark had other sausage varieties which contained up to 125 percent meat and that his company is not alone when it comes to Swedish sausage makers who don't hold back on the amount of meat used in their products.

“There are other sausages out there that have up to 150 percent meat,” he said

“Regular sausages often have water added, but these are made by basically putting straight mince meat into the machine, after which it's dried and smoked, which reduces their weight.”

Thuresson said he couldn't understand all the fuss as labels are based on percentages, not weight.

“I'd understand if it said there was 104 grammes of meat,” he said.

But Gunnar Wikström, a lawyer with the Consumer Agency, contested Thuresson's reasoning, telling the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper that “mathematics and common sense say that nothing can contain more than 100 percent because 100 percent is everything”.

Nevertheless, Trångsvikens Chark said the agency has assured the company that their labels are produced in accordance with existing guidelines and that no changes are needed.

In the meantime, the charcuterie is enjoying all the free publicity.

“It's been really good marketing. There's nothing wrong with it at all,” said Thuresson, who maintained that the surge in interest by the Swedish media over the company's meaty sausages was not part of an elaborate public relations ploy.

“No, not at all,” he said.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:42 November 9, 2011 by Svensksmith
Tamoko, you are 125% correct.
15:58 November 9, 2011 by DaveN
The rules state that the percentages of meat have to be calculated on the 'wet' weight. As meat is 50% water, once dried it's weight is reduced by 50%. So a sausage can be made with 200% meat, which when dried and put in a sausage, gives 100% meat by content and finished weight.

Blame the EU food regulations, not the guy making the sausages, he's just following the rules.
17:19 November 9, 2011 by Åskar
Northern Sweden? Trångsviken is about as in the middle of Sweden as you can get.
18:40 November 9, 2011 by canuk
anything above stockholm is considered north to swedes.
18:49 November 9, 2011 by eppie
I doubt the label says it CONTAINS 104% meat. I guess it is an ingredient list which is something completely different.

Check your beer; do you see hops and barley floating in it? No there is not. But these ingredients were used to make the beer......and that is why they are in the ingredient list.
06:23 November 10, 2011 by MarkinBoston
I'd tell the government that I'd paid 125% of my taxes and demand a refund.
09:13 November 10, 2011 by Frobobbles
I'm 115% positive that we would not even call the contents 'meat'.
09:36 November 10, 2011 by Pont-y-garreg
"Charcuterie" is a generic term for the products traditionally sold by charcutiers (pork butchers).

In other words, charcuterie is the wrong word. It refers to the food, not the shop.
09:48 November 10, 2011 by teslar
@DaveN

I buy the argument that the percentages are supposed to be wet weight, but that still doesn't justify percentage values over 100%. What should be stated is the percentage of meat amongst all the ingredients that you use to make a sausage.

In other words: put everything that you need to make one sausage on a table (before processing any ingredients). How much of what's on the table is meat?

It's still cheating in a sense, since you probably have a higher meat content pre-processing than post-processing. But at least it's now a consistent measure.
10:00 November 10, 2011 by Åskar
@Pont-y-garreg

Definition of CHARCUTERIE

: a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes; also : the products sold in such a shop

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/charcuterie
21:11 November 17, 2011 by R5S
Clearly the butcher is wrong and missleading consumers. The Consumer Agency person who accepted this grossly missleading labelling (if true) is a typical civil servant nincompoop. The butcher mixed up the weight of ingredients before and after preparation.

The National Food Agency (http://www.slv.se/sv/grupp1/Markning-av-mat/Sa-marks-maten/Vad-ar-varan-tillverkad-av/) states that: - the ingredients should be listed in order of decreasing order of the weight during preparation. - the amount is to be given in percent.

So if the the sausage in question used 104g of meat plus say 96g of other ingredients, then the total 200g would contain 52% meat, even if the amount of finished sausage was only 100g due to evaporation. According to comments on Dagens Nyheter website, the new sausage labels have been modified to read "104g meat for 100g sausage". The labels on the butcher's website have not yet been changed (no doubt he benefits from all the attention).

That the butcher got away with this for even one day, proves the lack basic math knowledge of too many people.
13:18 November 18, 2011 by Åskar
No, RSS. It's you who don't understand the regulation, but you can feel free to provide a method of dissecting a sausage after it is ready in order to find out the relative percentages of the different ingredients.
09:21 November 19, 2011 by Icarusty
Pathetic, posting lies about your products.
11:10 November 30, 2011 by BrittInSweden
Percentages have nothing to do with weight.

So a 104 grammes worth of meat in a 100 gramme sausage does not translate into a percentage.

Percentages of sausages would be based on all the ingredients. 97% meat, 1% sausage casing, 1% water, 1% herbs or something.
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