This May Put You Through The Grinder

by Curt Kovener          

If you are one who likes sausage for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you may change your mind (or turn your stomach) after reading this.

Sausages, a blend of meat, blood protein, fat, and spices, were the first processed food.

The English word sausage comes from the Latin salsus, meaning “salted.” Salt is key to a good sausage link because it dissolves the muscle fiber in meat so the fat can float in a chewy protein matrix. Yum, yum; hungry yet?

The Roman word for sausage, botulus, is the origin of the word botulism. The sausage production process creates a warm, moist, anaerobic environment ideal for Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that produces the botulin toxin.

In Asia and later the Mediterranean, sausages were left out to ferment, producing lactic acid that retarded the growth of spoilage bacteria, particularly botulin. Today, nitrites—chemicals added to cure the sausage—kill botulism more reliably. But unfortunately, nitrites also breakdown products of proteins to form cancer-causing nitrosamines.

•Now before my vegetarian friends get on your tofu high horse: Nitrites and their chemical relatives, nitrates, are also found in plants, vegetables and grains.

•And in case you are considering “home-made” over “store-bought”, over the past 60 years vegetables, fish, and home-canned foods have caused more outbreaks of botulism than beef, pork, and chicken.

Hot dogs  (yep, another form of sausage) cause 17 percent of food-related asphyxiations in children under 10. So chew your food kids

“Ich ben ein sausage.” Germany produces the greatest variety of wursts, with over 1,000 combinations of ingredients.

•And in Scotland there is haggis (another form of sausage) which is pretty much sheep innards ground up, stuffed into the sheep’s stomach and boiled until done. (For me that would be about 12 years.)

•Do you know what the original sausage was stuffed into? The small intestines of the animal from whence the stuffing came.

•Sausage is a more all encompassing efficient use of an animal. Grandpa used to say pork sausage contained everything of the pig except the squeal.

Now are you hungry?