What’s Really in Meat Pies?

Something totally different today.

High-Performance Gum

I have something of a fascination with the way manufacturers and marketers deceive and manipulate people into buying their products. ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story’ is their motto. I love walking around the supermarket and reading the misleading and creative crap that can be found on the labels of products. Yesterday, I saw some “Professional Strength” chewing gum. Wow, who knew that chewing some gum could be a profession? Good to know. I wonder what it pays? Why on earth would I opt for the boring old-fashioned amateur gum when I now have at my disposal the new-and-improved professional version? Good grief. 

Which brings me to meat pies.

I know; worst segue ever.

Let’s be honest, commercially-made meat pies are a little terrifying. Kind of like walking into a dark room in a creepy old house.

* If you don’t live in Australia, then you may not know that the humble meat pie is something of a national food here in the Land Down Under. They can be purchased pretty much anywhere and we curious creatures start inhaling them at about three years of age. In terms of nutritional value, I guess they would sit nicely along side the American hotdog.

Although to be honest, I think the hotdog scares me even more.

Some Research

Anyway, the other day something aroused my interest and, as a result, I thought I’d do a little research into our national food. Fortunately for me, Choice Magazine has already done the work for me. So, rather than re-invent the wheel, I thought I’d jump onto their research train, give them the credit (thankyou Team Choice) and share some extracts from their comprehensive report (The Truth About Meat Pies, May 18, 2010).

I’ll also share a few thoughts of my own. Of course.

The stuff in grey italics is from Choice, the rest is little-old Moi.

*Warning: If you’re a fan of the meat pie and you intend to remain that way, you might wanna look away now. I’m telling you, some of the following is not pretty. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a free, non-chemical way to decrease your appetite, this article might just do the job. You’re welcome.

Here we go…

Since our last review of meat pies in 2006 Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) have improved the definition of a meat pie. Previously, a meat pie had to contain 25% ‘meat’, which could include parts of the animal such as snouts, ears, tongue roots, tendons and blood vessels.

Bucket anyone?

Now, under the Food Standards Code, a meat pie must contain a minimum of 25% ‘meat flesh’.

So, let me get this straight. A meat pie only needs to contain 25% meat to be ‘legal’. Being as most of the pie is actually not meat, shouldn’t it be called a meatish pie? Or perhaps, a hint-o­f­-meat pie? Or maybe even a looks-like-meat-but-isn’t-really pie?    

Meat flesh includes the skeletal muscle of any slaughtered animal (any!!!) as well as any ‘attached’ animal rind, fat, connective tissue, nerve, blood and blood vessels.

I think I just spewed in my mouth. 

But it doesn’t have to be beef, (of course it doesn’t) muscle meat from buffalo, camel, cattle, deer, goat, hare, pig, poultry or sheep can be used to manufacture meat pies and doesn’t need to be specified on the label.

Are you f***ing with me?? Camel!!

While unpleasant, gristle, generally connective tissue and blood vessels attached to the meat, is allowed by the Food Standards Code.

Clearly, the people at Food Standards don’t eat pies.

Mrs Mac’s, Sargents Premium Chunky Beef Royale and Herbert Adams Pepper Steak Chunky pies barely make the minimum requirement, all containing just over 25% meat as required by the Food Standards Code. In our last test of meat pies in 2006, Big Ben Extra Tasty, Sargents Traditional and Black & Gold pies failed to meet the standard. We’re pleased to see these manufacturers have since lifted their game to meet the 25% requirement.

Yippee.

Herbert Adams King Island Gourmet Premium Beef Pies take the gong for most meat at 38.5%

So, they get an award for creating a meat pie that’s 61.5% not meat?

In nutrition, in marketing, in retail and in life, things are often not as they seem.

I’m of the opinion that when the majority of my meat pie is not meat, something’s wrong. And when the meat that does find it’s way into my mouth is possibly a combination of pig snout, ears, blood vessels, camel flesh, tongue roots, tendons and hare, then it’s time for me to go vegan.

Carrot anyone?

Feel free to share a pie, hotdog or junk food story, fact or experience of your own. Although, I’m not sure I should ask. :)

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