Processed meat puts in extra effort
UK supermarkets are no strangers to meat problems following the horse meat scandal of 2013 (read more), but today Aldi finds itself in the social media spotlight over a similar issue of products that claim to include more meat than they actually do. Packs of Cooked Ham Trimmings purchased from an Aldi store in West Yorkshire by shopper Della Farzad, list amongst its ingredients “110% British Pork”. Whilst they deserve top marks for effort, you don’t need to be a mathematician to know that this is impossible.
The explanation given to the Metro by an Aldi Spokesperson however, didn’t really help to make things any more clear. According to Aldi, the packaging should in fact read “110g of pork used per 100g of finished product”. But how can you get 110g or pork into 100g of a product? Processing, that’s how!
So called “ham”
The “ham” bought in packets from the supermarket is very rarely actual cuts of ham from a leg of pork. It is in fact cuts of a reformed meat product. The meat used in such products is very low grade. In this case the product is still being marketing as “trimmings” (i.e the off cuts). These mechanically recovered off cuts are then reformed (mushed together) into a shape that loosely resembles a leg of pork. A ton of salt is then added to cure the meat. This process draws out around a third of the moisture or water weight of the meat, which accounts for some of the meat weight loss. It is then rehydrated with water before preservatives and seasonings are added, with the final product then being sliced wafer thin to resemble what you might get at a butchers – but the two products are not the same at all.
The UK’s bad relationship with food
In the UK our relationship with grocery shopping has taken a further turn for the worst in recent years as price has dominated the priority list for consumers interested primarily in filling up for less. The leading supermarkets have seen the discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl take a big and ever increasing bite of their market share. The problem with putting price first is that it often put things like health, nutrition and animal welfare last.
Aldi’s Cooked Ham Trimmings product is just meat to many consumers. But the truth is that this processed meat product is just another in a vast number of products that further separates food from it’s natural form. The low cost of the product will almost certainly mean that the animals used in its production will have been raised and slaughtered under the bare minimum of animal welfare standards meaning that their’s will have been a claustrophobic life of crushing boredom, distress and suffering.
Then there’s the health value. Half of this “ham” isn’t meat at all. It’s water, salt, preservatives and flavouring. Ingredients such as sodium nitrate have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and according to the recent World Health Organisation report even cancer (read more). Nutritionally, unlike actually meat, reformed processed meat products are significantly lower in protein due to the fact that they don’t actually contain much meat, and instead are much higher in fat.
Whilst low cost food might seem like a good deal, in terms of health, nutrition and animal welfare you’re actually being more ripped off. 110% if most definitely too good to be true.