The Food Innovation team at Abertay University has helped develop a range of new, lower-fat sausages with reduced salt content for The Extraordinary Sausage Company.
Renowned for its distinctive flavours, The Extraordinary Sausage Company (ESC) was founded by Cameron Skinner – third generation owner of T&R Skinner, a family butchers based in the village of Kippen, Stirlingshire.
The company produces high-quality, handmade sausages and contacted Food Innovation @ Abertay (FIA) to see if the team could help them work towards meeting the Scottish Government’s new recommendations for reducing the salt and fat content in meat products.
Cameron had already been working with Chris Peace at the Scottish Food and Drink Federation (SFDF) on reducing the salt content of the sausages, and FIA was asked to take the project to the next stage.
Gordon Wallace at FIA – who has considerable expertise in the development of meat products – was tasked with making sure that reducing the salt content of the ESC sausage range would not affect the overall taste, quality, or texture of the sausages. He was also asked to look into the possibility of reducing the sausages’ fat content.
The team at FIA investigated how to do this with four of Cameron’s most popular sausage flavours – Haloumi Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper; Banana Madras; Leek and Tomato; and Scotch Bonnet.
Jon Wilkin, Senior Food Technologist at Food Innovation @ Abertay, explains:
“Cameron came to Food Innovation @ Abertay (FIA) to see if we could find a way to reduce the salt and fat content of his sausages, without affecting the distinctive flavours.
“This proposal made good business sense, because lower-fat and reduced salt products are areas of growth in the sausage market, and are also a priority of the Scottish Government’s obesity action plan.
“Sausages are traditionally quite high in both fat and salt, as this gives them a good taste and a long shelf-life.
“Chris Peace at the Scottish Food and Drink Federation had already identified that it was the base seasoning in Cameron’s sausages that was adding to the salt content, and was working with the seasoning company to help them lower the amount of salt in their products, without affecting the levels of preservatives and flavourings in them.
“Although it would have been possible to reduce the salt content of the sausages by simply reducing the amount of seasoning used in the recipe, FIA explained to Cameron that this would have the knock-on effect of lowering the amount of preservative within the sausages, which in turn would reduce their shelf-life – something that would affect his business.
“So our job at FIA was to make sure that the changes Chris was making to the seasoning wouldn’t affect the overall taste and texture of the sausages.
“Cameron also asked us to look at the other ingredients to see if the fat content could be reduced without the flavour or texture of the sausages being affected either.
“Gordon Wallace here at FIA worked on a number of versions of the recipes, and finally provided reformulated recipes for the four sausage products which were lower in salt, and had almost 25 per cent less fat.
“We then set up a number of consumer taste panels to make sure that these changes still met with consumer approval, which they did.
“Our modifications not only ticked all of Cameron’s boxes, but had the added bonus of reducing the cost of his raw materials as well.”
Cameron Skinner, Managing Director of The Extraordinary Sausage Company, said:
“Here at the Extraordinary Sausage Company we are committed to producing a range of healthy products. We could not have achieved this without the technical support in the first instance of Chris Peace at SFDF, who got us started on reformulating for health, and now the team at FIA, who have helped us take it to the next stage. Through working in partnership with both these organisations, we have a much greater understanding of the science behind how our products are made and the potential to make changes that benefit health.”
Although the project initially involved only four sausage flavours, Cameron now intends to adopt the lower fat and reduced salt principles for meat products developed by FIA across his full range.
These can be purchased from the original butcher’s shop in Kippen, as well as from the butchery counter at Dobbies in Stirling – a brand new venture.
Abertay University has just launched a new course in direct response to the critical skills shortage currently faced by the food and drink industry. Students on the new MProf Food and Drink Innovation (Packaging and Sustainability) will have the opportunity to work on projects with Food Innovation @ Abertay.
The Extraordinary Sausage Company has just been shortlisted for two categories in the Food and Drink Federation’s annual awards: “Innovation” and “Health & Wellbeing Champion”. The awards ceremony will take place in London on Thursday, November 14.
The project with FIA was funded using the Interface Innovation Voucher Scheme, and was carried out in conjunction with the Scottish Government funded Scottish Food and Drink Federation (SFDF) Reformulation programme.