Brand and Quality

Clonakilty Black Pudding is rightly famous and many people were saddened by the passing of Edward Twomey who made it into a formidable brand. Over the years they have diversified a bit and I see their sausages almost everywhere. We’ve tended to buy them as our “standard” saturday sausage when supermerket buying (going more with Caherbeg or Gubbeen for a treat).

This morning I spotted an extra sticker on the pack and initially had to giggle “This product does not contain Colour Red 2g (E128)……It contains Colour (Carmine E120)”. Then I thought “what the hell is food colouring doing in a sausage?”. Surely pork, pork fat, rusk and seasoning is all that is needed in a quality banger?

So I looked at the ingredients and got depressed. 53% meat! That’s worse than most discount “value” bangers in a supermarket. It continued “E221 preservative, E621 flavour enhancer, E120 colour, Spice extract, Antioxidant E301”

A quick decode via Google gives: E221=Sodium Sulphite, E621=Monosodium Glutamate, E120=Cochineal, E301=Sodium Ascorbate. You think MSG in a sausage is bad, wait until you see this. Wonder why the E128 that they were using was replaced with E120?

Following safety concerns raised by EFSA in its opinion of 5 July 2007 [2], the European Commission has prepared a draft Regulation to suspend use of E128 as a food colouring. This proposed course of action was unanimously approved by European Union Member States at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health (Section Toxicological Safety of the Food Chain) on 20 July 2007

Now that I think about it, I normally associate “red” sausages with cheap and nasty. I was just led astray by the good name in this case. I hate seeing great brands ruined by a race for volume. We’ll be looking more closely at our sausage purchases from now on.

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland