Fresh Sausages Production

Introduction

Fresh sausages cover a variety of items manufactured from tissue of different species. The most popular is fresh pork sausage, which is a minced and seasoned fresh pork product. However, even fresh pork sausages can differ in texture, seasoning, type of casings (or without casings) and meat content. Pork sausages are usually not smoked, but can also be smoked. All fresh sausages must be cooked before eating, even those that have been smoked.

Raw Materials

    Tissues used for manufacturing fresh sausages should have a low bacterial count (since no heat is used which used to reduce their numbers) and product temperature should be maintained at or below 2 °C (35 °F) during mincing and mixing. The temperature should be lowered to 0 °C (32 °F) during holding and transit. For extended shelf-life, the temperature could be lowered to –18 °C (0 °F, which is frozen) until shipped. Meats utilized for manufacturing include pork trimmings, for example extra lean 95%, special lean 85%, regular pork trimmings and cheek meat. The colour of the trimmings will influence the colour of the sausage. PSE (pale, soft and exudative) pork tissue will not only result in a lighter colour, but will also result in more shrinkage when cooked. DFD (dark, firm and dry) pork tissue will result in darker sausages with a pH more favourable for bacterial growth; however, this tissue has increased water-holding capacity. ‘Dark Cutter’ beef muscles will yield similar results. The percentage of red (darker) as opposed to white (lighter) fibres in a muscle is influenced by the animal’s genetics and the location in the carcass, with the more active muscles (e.g. heart, shank, neck, many muscles in the fore quarter) resulting in darker muscles. Even in the hind leg area, different muscles have different amounts of pigmentation.

Species, age of the animal and exercise will influence colour. Beef and lamb tissues are usually darker than pork, which is usually darker than chicken. As the animal ages, the muscles usually become darker, and as the tissue dries out it darkens.

Mechanically deboned tissue contains more red pigment due to the increase in bone marrow and a

decrease in connective tissue. The quantity of connective tissue can have an influence on tenderness and chewiness as well as on emulsifying stability in emulsified products. Again, the active shank muscles, cheek muscles and a portion of the fore quarter are higher in these tissues. However, fresh sausage is minced and usually not an emulsion, so tenderness and emulsifying stability is usually not a major problem. Male sex and age can influence boar taint, which can impart an undesirable flavour and odour to sausage products. The older intact boar is the major contributor of this undesirable problem.


Fresh pork sausage in the United States must use pork trimmings that do not exceed an average maximum of 50% trimmable fat. An entire pork carcass will yield approximately 50–70% of sausage tissue, if the whole carcass is utilized.

Seasoning is varied according to the individuals manufacturing the products. Some of the more popular seasoning mixtures can be found in . In most cases, the proper blend must be selected to suit the required taste. If all of the spices listed are used, the sausages will be too spicy for most tastes. There is a wide range of ethnic and regional preferences in seasoning. Areas that are more tropical and/or produce spices (e.g. India) generally prefer more spice intensity. Even in regions of the country that are in close proximity, flavour desirability can vary a great deal (e.g. fresh pork sausage with or without sage).

Fresh sausages are not heat treated and they are sold in a raw state. In principle, fresh sausages are not cured. Fresh sausages actually comprise the mixtures of meats, fat and spices stuffed into casings with the intention that the consumer himself cooks them prior to serving. In many countries they are manufactured on request in butcher shops.

The basic raw materials used in fresh sausage manufacture are pork and beef, including their trimmings. Veal is also often processed, especially for higher quality products. Meat and fat are generally coarsely ground. The ratio of lean to fat has a decided bearing on the quality of the product, particularly in controlling the shrinkage that occurs during cooking. The leaner formulae show less shrinkage than formulae with more fat. The addition of a small amount of water or milk (3 to 5 percent) facilitates the stuffing operation. Occasionally, however, dry or sticky meat can cause stuffing and linking problems which can be avoided by the addition of more water. A meat temperature of 2 to 4°C at stuffing and good fluid properties of the meat mass are the best conditions for preparation of fresh sausages for stuffing. If any binder is used at all, its amount should not be more than 1–3 percent of the weight of the meat. A mechanical mixer is highly desirable for larger quantities.

Fresh sausages are normally stuffed in pig or sheep casings. The casings are washed with water prior to being placed upon the stuffing horn. They are filled to maximum capacity. Medium size casings are preferably used for pork sausages, especially if they are stuffed into links. Narrow casings are more suitable for fresh beef sausages. The stuffed casings are divided by linking into shorter units. This is carried out by giving the stuffed casing a twist at regular intervals. The sausage units are of various length depending upon local market demands. After stuffing and linking, fresh sausages should be dried at room temperature for a short time and chilled rapidly. Chilling should be done by hanging sausages in a chiller

Grinding
Meats must be clean, sound, and wholesome. These products should be inspected when arriving at the facility, and just prior to use, to ensure that they were not contaminated during transit or handling.The specific meats used in a sausage formulation must be correctly identified by type and quantity.

Blending
Excessive handling also cuts protein fibers too short. All of these problems could result in product quality defects. The blending process must also obtain a uniform distribution of any non-meat ingredients within the product formulation. For example, flavorings, salts, and other ingredients must be consistently mixed throughout a sausage formulation.

Stuffing
To create the natural casings, the casing processor washes, scrapes, and treats the casings, grades the casings for size and condition, then salts, packages, and ships the casings in brine or propylene glycol (for preservation) to the sausage manufacturer. The stuffed casings are then separated into uniform segments of equal length in a process called linking. These segments form the single sausage portions. The linking process is typically accomplished by twisting the casing.

The addition of a small amount of water or milk (3 to 5 percent) facilitates the stuffing operation

Casings

Sausage may be stuffed into casings, linked or not linked or sold as sausage meat (loose or unstuffed).

Natural casings utilized are small and large intestines of the hog and come in sizes of extra narrow (29 mm or less), narrow (28–32 mm), narrow mediums (32–35 mm), English mediums (35–38 mm), wide (38–43 mm), and extra wide (43 mm and up). Sheep casings can also be used and popular sizes are 20–22

mm and 24–26 mm. Animal casings are highly contaminated and fragile when removed from the animal carcass and must be cleaned immediately after slaughter. Cleaning involves mesentery fat removal, passage through a manure stripper, water soaking, passage through a crusher, further water soaking,

passage through a mucosa stripper, through a finishing machine and soaking in salt water.
Factors that influence the casing quality would include age of the animal, breed, fodder consumed or other factors related to the animal itself (e.g. parasites) or conditions under which they were raised. After cleaning, the casings are sorted, slated, packed in salt and shipped. Before the casings are used they are often

soaked in water to remove the excess salt. Reconstituted collagen (corium layer is extracted from animal hides (usually beef) and extruded), fibrous cellulose, polyethylene and cloth casings or bags are also sometimes used.


Pre-rigor sausage production (removal from carcass by hot boning before chilling) is gaining in popularity.

This technique is particularly utilized when whole hog sausages are manufactured, since tenderness is not a major problem when utilizing minced tissue. One major advantage of pre-rigor sausage

manufacturing is an extended shelf-life of the sausage as a result of getting the salt to microbiologically fairly clean tissue prior to extensive microbial growth and increased chilling efficiency. Hot boning can also

increase yield and the shelf-life can almost be doubled.

 

Production and Types of Sausage

In principle, fresh sausage is one of the simplest types of sausage to make, since it is usually neither cured, cooked nor smoked prior to being sold. It is simply minced tissue that is seasoned, mixed and stuffed into a casing or sold in bulk. The typical fresh pork sausage is processed by mincing through a 1 2 in (12.5 mm)plate, mixing, remincing through a 3 16 in (5 mm) plate, stuffing and selling fresh or frozen.


However, some products are cooked (meat precooked before manufacture, fried, or cold or hot smoked and cooked (142 °F/62 °C). The cooking process takes it out of the fresh sausage category. In some cases the casing is peeled or the sausage may be moulded rather than being in a casing. The precooked and peeled sausage is often called ‘brown and serve’ sausage. Other types of fresh sausage are described below.

Producing Sausages

Fresh Sausages

    In this section, you will go over the main steps that are utilized to produce standard sausage products, including Fresh Sausages, Cooked and Smoked Sausages, and Dry Sausages.

Fresh Sausages are made from selected cuts of fresh and sometimes frozen meats. Fresh sausages are not allowed to contain curing agents [i.e., sodium or potassium nitrites, nitrates, or salt in sufficient quantities to preserve the product] and are not cooked. Fresh sausages are usually seasoned, and have limited water content. These types of sausages require refrigerated storage, and must be thoroughly cooked before serving.

Fresh sausages are not as widely produced as cooked sausages, and are typically consumed as breakfast meals. Typical fresh sausages include products such as pork sausages, beef sausage, breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, and fresh chorizo sausages. This chart provides some of the FSIS established Standards of Identity for typical fresh sausages. [see 9 CFR 319.140-145] These FSIS standards are presented as guidelines for State and local inspection.

Standards of Identity for Fresh Sausages

Type Fat Content Characteristics

Fresh Pork Sausage

Up to 50% No pork by-products, paprika, binders, or extenders allowed. Water/ice up to 3% permitted. Country Style Pork Sausage Up to 50% All spices and flavorings must be natural.

Whole Hog Sausage

Up to 50% Can use meat parts from entire hog, including muscle by-products like tongue and heart, in proportions consistent with the natural animal. Water/ice up to 3% permitted.

Breakfast Sausage

Up to 50% Can contain mechanically-separated product up to 20% of the meat portion, and binders and extenders up to 3.5%. Can contain meat ingredients from multiple species. Water/ice up to 3% permitted. Paprika not permitted.

Fresh Beef Sausage

Up to 30% Can contain mechanically-separated beef product up to 20%. Binders, extenders, and paprika are not permitted. Water/ice up to 3% permitted.

Bratwurst (fresh)

No fat limitation.Usually made from pork but can be made from poultry if properly identified on label. Can contain binders and extenders up to 3.5%. Water/ice up to 3% permitted.

Italian Sausage

By standard is only pork, special labeling for others Up to 35% Must contain 85% meat/fat. Can contain mechanically-separated pork product up to 20% of the meat portion, approved condiments, and additional food ingredients. Water/ice up to 3% permitted. Paprika is permitted. Must have anise or fennel as spices, which provide product identity.


Of course, establishments may want to produce other types of sausage. Establishments have the flexibility to design their own particular sausage formulas. Many manufacturers are creating gourmet-type fresh sausage products that are acceptable as long as a truthful, descriptive product name and an accurate ingredients statement are included on the label.

The main processes used to produce Fresh Sausages are:

  • Grinding meat ingredients

  • Adding non-meat ingredients

  • Blending

  • Stuffing

  • Packaging

In this section we’ll briefly review each stage of the production process for creating most types of fresh sausages.


These steps are also used to create other types of sausages.


Adding Non-Meat Ingredients

The first step in sausage production is grinding the ingredients. The grinding stage reduces the meat ingredients into small, uniformly sized particles. Ground meat is the primary ingredient in a sausage formulation. The characteristics of the meat ingredients used to

create the sausage define the type of sausage – the overall taste, texture, aroma, along with the protein and fat content. A variety of raw meat ingredients are utilized in the sausage

production process. Each ingredient contributes a specific property to the final sausage formulation. Meats must be clean, sound, and wholesome. These products

should be inspected when arriving at the facility, and just prior to use, to ensure that they were not contaminated during transit or handling. The specific meats used in a sausage formulation must be correctlyidentified by type and quantity. Prior to grinding, the meat is held in cold storage. Although the Food Code requires the meat to be held at 41°F or less, often processors prefer to chill the meat to below 30°F to minimize the potential for fat smearing. The grinder blades must be sharp and matched with the grinding plate to ensure an efficient grind without generating extra heat during the grinding process. Grinding processes will vary according to the manufacturer and the nature of the product. Some sausage products use coarsely ground meats, others use more finely ground meat ingredients. Some manufacturers grind the lean and fat trimmings separately, grinding the lean trimmings to a finer consistency than the fat meats. There are many non-meat ingredients that are essential to the sausage making process. These non-meat ingredients stabilize the mixture, and add specific characteristics and flavors to the final product. Ingredients used in fresh sausage include water, salt, and antioxidants, along with traditional spices, seasonings, and

flavorings. It is important to note that the use of some non-meat ingredients is limited or prohibited. In fresh sausage, for example, water is limited to 3 percent of the total weight, and binders and extenders such as dry milk powder are limited to 3.5 percent of the total weight.

Paprika is a spice that is considered both a flavoring and a coloringagent, because of its strong red color. For this reason, paprika or oleoresin of paprika may not be used in any fresh meat product, except products that it is traditionally expected in, such as Italian sausage and chorizo.

The amount of non-meat ingredients, such as spices, is determined by the overall weight of the product mixture. Since the amounts of these ingredients must be carefully controlled, and measuring very small amounts of numerous specific ingredients within a manufacturing environment is often not practical, many manufacturers use a commercially pre-measured and packaged mix of these ingredients.

Blending 

Manufacturers carefully control the blending of the meat and nonmeat ingredients to create the desired characteristics for a specific sausage formulation. The meat and non-meat ingredients are placed in a mixer and thoroughly blended. The manufacturer must monitor and control the blending process, since excessive mixing can cause the salts in the formulation to break down excessive amounts of protein, or friction created by the blending process can increase the product temperature and cause fats to partially render. Excessive handling also cuts protein fibers too short. All of these problems could result in product quality defects. The blending process must also obtain a uniform distribution of any non-meat ingredients within the product formulation. For example, flavorings, salts, and other ingredients must be consistently mixed throughout a sausage formulation.

Stuffing

The Stuffing Process

After the blending is complete, the blended ingredients may be bulk packaged, or they many be extruded into a casing. This process is called stuffing. Fresh sausages are typically stuffed into natural animal casings. Natural casings used for fresh sausage are derived from the small intestines of sheep. To create the natural casings, the casing processor washes, scrapes, and treats the casings, grades the casings for size and condition, then salts, packages, and ships the casings in brine or propylene glycol (for preservation) to the sausage manufacturer. Fresh sausages may also be stuffed into a small diameter artificial casing, or may be extruded into a short, large diameter plastic casing called a “chub” pack, usually containing 1 to 2 pounds of meat

The stuffing process can be accomplished in a number of ways. Natural casings are typically flushed with water, and the mixture is injected into the casing at a pressure that is sufficient to fill the casing without leaving any air pockets, and without tearing the casing. The stuffing process is also sometimes conducted at lower temperatures (<35-380F) to minimize fat smearing on the casing.

Smaller volume or specialty producers may stuff the formulation into the casing by hand or from a screw feed. These small operations may also bypass choppers, mixers, and stuffers, and stuff the output of the grinder directly into the casing. Larger manufacturers may use air or water-piston type automatic stuffers. The stuffed casings are then separated into uniform segments of equal length in a process called linking. These segments form the single sausage portions. The linking process is typically accomplished by twisting the casing.


Packaging 

The fresh sausage product is sometimes packaged for sale to the customer. The product may be wrapped in a gas impermeable plastic, and placed into refrigerated storage or display. The specific packaging will vary according to the needs of the end user, however, the processor must follow hygienic standards when packaging any sausage product to avoid contaminating the product.

Shelf Life

Fresh sausages are more perishable than other types of sausages and should be handled with special care. Fresh sausages deteriorate relatively rapidly due to both microbial spoilage and oxidative rancidity. Fresh sausages muust be kept in a refrigerated room at a temperature close to 0° to 4°C. Fresh sausage storage life at refrigerator temperatures above freezing is usually 2 to 4 days. Freezing protects the product successfully against bacterial spoilage but not against oxidative rancidity, assisted by the catalytic activity of the salt.

Exposure of the fresh sausages to temperatures between 20° and 40°C is detrimental to the product which may not be immediately visible. The practice of mild smoking of some kinds of fresh sausage will not give longer protection. The proper circulation of air in a fresh sausage storage room is a subject requiring considerable study for each individual installation. Most processors consider that a moderate circulation of air will satisfactorily extend the shelf life of a product but if the air circulation is too rapid, an excessive shrinkage will occur associated with surface skin formation.

Air humidity in a storage room has much if not more influence than air circulation on surface spoilage, mould, shrinkage, and the appearance of fresh sausages. Air circulation in a sausage storage room must be kept reasonably dry. A humidity of 75 to 80 percent seems high enough with a temperature of 6° to 8°C to prevent excessive loss of moisture and low enough to keep the product for some days and to avoid the formation of mould.

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