Curing and Sausage Making Safe Food Principles

Curing and Sausage Making Safe Food Principles

Retail Meat & Poultry Processing Training Modules

Produced under a Cooperative Agreement from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Developed by:
Minnesota Department of Agriculture,
Dairy and Food Inspection Division
Hennepin County Environmental Health
Minnesota Department of Health
University of Minnesota Extension Service
September 2004


• History
• Sausage definition
• Types of sausage
• Role of ingredients
• Function of cure
• Cure rates
• Casing label requirements
• HACCP Plan
• Critical control points
• Steps in processing
• Cooking temperatures
• Cooling guidelines
• Packaging
• Labeling requirement
• Storage and display
• Jerky

Learning Objectives

1. List 3 types of sausage.
2. Name 4 main ingredients and their purpose.
3. Explain the function of cure and acceptable cure rates.
4. Identify the critical control points of a HACCP plan in sausage making.
5. Recite the cooling requirements for sausage.
6. List 4 items that are required on a sausage label.

Sausage History

• Sausage production is one of the earliest forms of food preservation
• The word sausage is derived from the Latin word “Salsus” which means salted meat

Role of Salt

• Salt plays a more limited role in sausage preservation today
• Present day salt levels provide less of a preservative effect than the higher levels of the past
• Most sausage recipes contain 1-3% salt
• Salt levels are usually adjusted for taste

Sausage Definition:

A mixture of ground or chopped meats combined with spices and other ingredients and usually formed or shaped in casings of various sizes

Primary Sausage Types

• Fresh Sausages
• Cooked Sausages
• Fermented Sausages
• Meat Loaves and Jellied Products

Fresh Sausages
• Raw/uncooked meat product
• Does not contain the “curing” ingredient nitrite or nitrate
• Examples are: fresh pork sausage, fresh bratwurst, and fresh Italian sausage

Cooked Sausage

• Fully cooked ready-to-eat sausages
• Most are also smoked but may be water or steam cooked as well
• May be eaten without reheating
• Examples include: wieners, smoked sausages, bologna, cooked bratwurst

Fermented Sausages

• Have a characteristic “tangy” flavor
• Produced through fermentation by lactic acid producing bacteria or the direct addition of encapsulated acids
• These sausages can be shelf-stable with the proper amount of drying and acidification
• Semi-dry: summer sausage and snack sticks
• Dry: pepperoni, hard salami

Meat loaves and Jellied Products

• Loaves: Mixtures of chopped meat that are usually “formed” and cooked in pans or metal molds
• Examples: pickle and pimento loaf and honey loaf
• Jellied products: consist of a cooked mixture of meat chunks placed in gelatin
• Examples: jellied roast beef and head cheese

Sausage Ingredients:

• Meat
• Salt
• Spices
• Cure
• Reducing Agents
• Binders and Extenders
• Water
• Casings

Meat Use only fresh meat in good condition and from an approved source.
• Maintain all meats at a temperature of 41°F or less during storage and production prior to cooking.


• Salt is a necessary ingredient for flavor
• It aids in preserving some sausages
• It is essential for extracting the “soluble” meat protein that is responsible for binding the sausage together when the sausage is heated
• Most sausages contain 1-3 % salt


• All spices and seasoning should be fresh to achieve maximum and consistent flavors
• Store seasonings at 55°F or below in air tight containers to maintain freshness

Meat Curing Ingredients

• Nitrates and nitrites are the common “curing” ingredients used in the production of sausage
• Nitrite is the compound that distinguishes fresh products from cured products
• Nitrate is converted to nitrite during the fermentation and cooking process

Function of Cure

• provides protection against the growth of botulism
• extends shelf life
• stabilizes the flavor of the cured meat
• used to achieve the characteristic flavor and color

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