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17 September 2014
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Should I Worry About... Sausages?

It's the nation's favourite dinner. But have you ever wondered what lurks inside the great British sausage?

Why can you buy some bangers for less than the price of dog food? Is the humble sausage a heart surgeon's nightmare?

Richard Hammond meets and talks to butchers and nutritionist and discovers the following:

  • Generally pork sausage must contain a minimum of 42 percent meat, but the minimum is 32 percent meat, if the package is labelled as generic sausage.

  • Ear, snout and cheek are allowed in sausages, but will be labelled as 'head meat'.

  • Each year, 100,000 tonnes of sausages are eaten in cafes and cafeterias - places where you can't read the label.

Our research shows that the average sausage served in schools and hospitals is 25 percent fat and contains a gram of salt - that's more fat than a doughnut and more salt than a glass of seawater.

Health issues

Saturated fat comes from animal products - particularly red meat. Medical research has shown that saturated fat lines your arteries with a kind of plaque that builds up over time and can cause a blockage. This can lead to a heart attack or congestive heart failure.

Salt can raise the blood pressure. High blood pressure can affect the function of the heart.

We swapped the diets of a healthy and unhealthy eater for one month. It only took ten days of a poor diet for our normally healthy eater to experience a significant rise in blood cholesterol level.

Clearly, a few sausages are not going to do you very much harm. But as we showed in the programme, a diet that is high in processed meats and saturated fats can cause rapid changes in health.

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Should I Worry About...

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Nutrition advice
BBC Health has information about healthy eating.

Hot topics - obesity
Facts about Britain's obesity epidemic.

What's in a sausage?
Read the report on British bangers.

Haven't been put off?
Try these BBC Food sausage recipes.

 Elsewhere on the web

The Food Standards Agency
The independent food safety watchdog has advice on healthy eating.

The British Nutrition Foundation
Explains the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat.

The Health Education Trust
A charity promoting health education.

The Food Commission
A campaign group focussing on food safety.

Meat matters
Nutritional information from the Meat and Livestock Commission.

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