Last updated on 2 September 2003

Programme of mini-surveys: sausages survey (41/03)

The Food Standards Agency has recently carried out a survey to look at the levels of a limited range of nutrients, including sodium (salt), fat and sugar, in a range of sausages.

The results of this survey show that the salt content of standard sausages has increased since they were last tested from 2.2g per portion to 2.4g; and the fat content of 'high quality' sausages has increased from 15g per portion to over 20g. However, the average levels of salt and fat in sausages overall (across all types) have fallen since they were last analysed in 1991.

Key Points

Sixty-five (65) samples of sausages from 10 different categories, including premium, standard, economy range and 'healthy eating' pork sausages, as well as other meat (e.g. beef) and vegetarian products, were purchased and analysed to determine the levels of a limited number of nutrients, including sodium (salt), fat and sugar. The sausages were analysed raw as individual samples and, once cooked, as composite samples made up of the different brands from each category.

Results from this survey show that:

  • Standard pork sausages have higher levels of salt than when they were last tested, in 1991. Average salt content of these products has increased from 2.2g per portion (two sausages) to 2.4g. This is over a third of the target daily salt intake for an adult (6g).
  • Overall, the average salt content of meat sausages has reduced by 11% since they were last tested.
  • This is mainly due to the reduction in the amounts of salt in the low/reduced fat sausage ranges (from 2.4g per portion to 1.8g) – a decrease of around 25% for this category. However, a portion of low/reduced fat sausages still provides nearly a third of the target daily intake for adults.
  • While the average fat content of most categories has reduced since 1991, high quality brands have up to 35% more fat than when last measured – from 15g per portion to over 20g.
  • Overall, the average fat content of meat sausages has reduced by 25% since they were last tested. Again, this is mainly due to the reduction in the amounts of fat in low/reduced fat sausages (from 11.1g to 4.9g) – a decrease of around 56%.
  • Sausage brand leader Richmond had the highest salt content in its pork sausages out of all the products surveyed at 35% of the target daily intake per portion. Marks & Spencer’s Premium Pork Sausages and Co-op's Butchers Select Sausages contained only 15% of the recommended daily amount of salt per portion. The Co-op is also moving towards using LoSalt (a low sodium alternative to salt) in many of their own-brand products.
  • A typical sausage meal, e.g. two sausages served with chips and beans, would provide 4.3g of salt, around 72% of the daily target amount for an adult. A children’s meal of sausage, chips and beans would provide around 43% of the target daily intake for children aged 7 to 10 years, at over 2g of salt per meal.