Home Weekend WTF? Weekend WTF: Hidden Pork On Your Fork?

Weekend WTF: Hidden Pork On Your Fork?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

So… I’m going through the grocery store, when I decide to pick my daughter up some chicken sausages. This should be easy, right?

Not so much.

I head over to the section with the hot dogs and sausages… and I see the chicken sausages. This should be easy, right?

Not so much.

I grab the first one I see. I look at the front and see all “the right words.”

“No gluten, no MSG, made with chicken raised without hormones,” it says.

This should be easy, right? Not so much.

I give the back label a quick glance… and I see all the right numbers.

But wait – do you see what I see?

Let’s get a close-up.

In case you can’t see that.. it says “in a pork casing.”

In fact… all of them were either “in a pork casing” or “in a collagen casing.” That might not’ve been a WTF?! moment for you… but it definitely was for me, as someone who does not have pork in her household. We might’ve talked about this “hidden pork” issue when we talked about turkey bacon… but in other products that we expect to be all-poultry?

I don’t love that.

I did eventually find my all chicken sausages… and I bought them just because I was so eager to get them for her and was so angry that they had pork in them…

…but that price? Good grief.

Got a Weekend WTF?! to share with the class? Send it to wtf@blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com today!

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42 comments

shimbir January 22, 2011 - 11:52 AM

I’ve always wondered about companies that do this: Is it because the pork casing makes the product cheaper somehow? Why not place the chicken sausage in a plastic casing like Mexican chorizo? That way, people who are watching what they eat or have a religious/medical reason to abstain from pork can enjoy the product?

shimbir January 22, 2011 - 11:55 AM

ETA: I meant that you can cut the plastic casing off and eat the inside

dmsTurner January 22, 2011 - 12:14 PM

I had a conversation with a butcher a few years ago about this. It is cheaper to use pork casing because it is readily available and has been accepted widely for years.

While ‘technically’ we could just remove the casing, it doesn’t quite work for many non-pork eaters for religious/health reasons. I originally didn’t eat pork for religious reasons; If I’ve consumed it in error – it makes me ill (this is how I learned about the pork casings with a turkey sausage product..sad, those were some tasty sausages, too.)

A helpful hint – look for Kosher symbols on sausage products or shop in Kosher food sections. Sometimes the ingredients will say ‘natural casing’, without noting collagen or pork casing. If I don’t see a kosher symbol, I pass on it.

Erika January 22, 2011 - 12:20 PM

I’m actually researching Kosher foods for a future blog post! Anything you want to drop in the comments would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Marjorie September 16, 2013 - 9:24 AM

When the package says “natural casing”, what is the nature of that natural casing?

~ Marjorie ~

Erika Nicole Kendall September 16, 2013 - 10:58 AM

Usually animal, usually pork. It’s the cheapest, and a failure to name it usually means that it’s using a cheap option.

Mscush January 23, 2014 - 2:37 PM

At this point, when you can’t be sure what is what when you buy it, especially if you don’t eat pork or beef. Where do you shop for groceries to ensure that you’re not being fooled? Absolutely ridiculous!!

Erika Nicole Kendall January 23, 2014 - 8:29 PM

I think buying Kosher is your best bet, honestly. You can never get more sure than that.

SlimmerWoman January 22, 2011 - 12:19 PM

The exact thing happened to me not long ago, I just quit looking for real all chicken sausage! It seems that the hidden pork phenonmenon happens way too often, something foul is happening where meat products are prepared for sale!!

Marjorie January 22, 2011 - 1:45 PM

I have found recipes where you make your own sausage (making them into patties). I haven’t had pork since 1992 and when I mistakely ingest something with pork in it, it makes me sick.

Benny June 3, 2016 - 2:21 AM

Same here..haven’t eaten that crap since ’89

Purple_Amethyst January 22, 2011 - 2:20 PM

I loooove pork, but this is wrong because it is deceptive.

Green Afro Diva January 22, 2011 - 2:38 PM

I’d be more concerned that it has 80mg of cholesterol in it and a lot of sodium for one link and it’s supposed to be a healthy product. I don’t have much of a problem with pork because I don’t eat much of it anyway, but they could have at least noted on the product that it had pork in it.

Randi January 22, 2011 - 5:05 PM

OMG seriously my bf and I just discovered this fact about a month ago. I just happened to look at the ingredients of the beef sausages that we usually eat and I was shocked to see pork casing. My bf was upset bc he’s muslim and doesn’t eat pork for religious reasons. After that every sausage we have purchased we saw that they were all in pork casings.

As of now we just cut the meat out of the casing until we find a sausage that isn’t too expensive without the pork casing (which has been quite hard to find!)

Crystal January 23, 2011 - 1:06 AM

O.k. this one had me running to the fridge to check my T.J.’s Chicken Sausages, and yay! no pork casing on these babies, that’s what’s up! good review and good eye to Erika! man, just when you think you’ve checked everything, hmmmph whoda thunk?

Tylesa January 23, 2011 - 12:13 PM

Erika,

I was in T***** J**s and was going to buy a product such as this. I was shocked to read the Pork casing. I was telling my family and friends about this discovery, for they need to realize the importance of reading labels. Reading is fundamental 🙂 Thanks again for the info.

Tylesa

Shante January 23, 2011 - 2:43 PM

I stress this with my friends all the time. If you are buying food and you have no clue how whatever you are buying is made, I really feel like it is your own fault when you decide to finally look at the ingredients, see something you don’t like and you have been eating whatever product for months or years. Just because you are not a chef is no excuse to not know how your food is produced. If you decide to eat food someone else prepared educate yourself first. Everyone that eats chicken isn’t against eating pork or beef. Sausage is made with beef, pork, sheep or synthetic casings.
If you don’t care for pork for whatever reason Halal and Kosher meat products would be the only kind of meat product I would trust.
Keep up the good work Erika because someone needs to keep reminding people to learn about the food they are eating. Even the not so in your face details such as sausage casing.

Green Afro Diva January 24, 2011 - 11:11 AM

Here’s where I disagree with you somewhat. If you buy a product that claims to be healthy, has no msg, gluten free, and no preservatives, then you’re going to take that product at its word an buy into its’ claims. This company is selling a product that has chicken in it to give off the impression that it contains no other fillers, beef, or pork products, but it’s wrapped in a pork casing. That’s dishonest and they should disclose that on their packaging, the same way they do for products that may contain soy, milk, eggs, wheat, fish, and nuts. I do agree that consumers should be more vigilant when it come to what’s in the food, but companies have a responsibility to their consumers to put out a honest product and live up to their claims.

Shante January 24, 2011 - 4:23 PM

We will have to agree to disagree. This brand of sausage is sold at my local supermarket I do not recall it being marketed as healthy. Just because something is made with chicken, no msg or gluten doesn’t mean it is healthy.
If I don’t know how something is made it doesn’t pass these lips end of story. I have always been picky about whose house I eat at, what restaurant I eat out at and what foods I buy. As a kid I would go hungry because I would refuse to eat. I get a lot of flack about that but I couldn’t careless. I ask questions and if something isn’t up to snuff it is a wrap. If more people were like that they wouldn’t end up eating things they don’t like by accident.
This sausage doesn’t say anything about being pork or beef free because it isn’t. There is no kosher, halal, or beef /pork free symbols. Doesn’t say it is preservative free because sodium nitrite is a preservative. Also I do not understand what you mean by giving the impression of no fillers since it is made with chicken. There is no 100% chicken label, if there was I would agree with you. Since “in a pork casing” is clearly labeled it is up to the consumer that doesn’t eat pork to take notice of that instead of just throwing it into the basket because it says chicken. I mean they tell you it is there just like soy, dairy, nut and gluten products.
I agree with Erika that this is a WTF because I feel her point with this is to make people take notice to what they are eating. Do I think it is deceiving? No because it says it on the package there is pork and it doesn’t claim to be pork free. IMO it is not just about reading labels, you need to know how the food is prepared. People have stopped caring about the process. When you know the process you can make better choices.

Green Afro Diva January 24, 2011 - 11:41 PM

What you’re saying is personal responsibility and that somehow, the company has nothing to do with deceiving it’s customers into thinking that they are buying a product with only chicken in it because it is up to them to figure out what they are eating. I used filler as an example such as for other products containing chemicals or other foods that hold no nutritional value. The product is marketed as a chicken product, it should say that it may contain pork, soy or other fillers in it. If I’m muslim and have been buying this product, then I have a right to be upset because I am learning that it has pork in it when I was under the impression that it didn’t according to the way it’s marketed. It just would have been simple for the company to disclose this information. We’ll agree to disagree…..

Shante January 25, 2011 - 1:56 AM

My point is personal responsibility and that this product imo isn’t deceiving in the way you are implying. Seriously just because it is a chicken sausage doesn’t mean it won’t have pork. I really don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t understand that. There is nothing that says pork free, nothing so why would you think for one second that there wouldn’t be without reading the ingredient label? Right there they say it has pork. You want them to disclose that there is pork and they do, so what exactly are you feeling deceived about? I’m not trying to be rude I honestly do not get it.
I mean if it said natural casing I would say yes I agree because you wouldn’t know pork or beef and that is deceiving. Also casing is in no way shape or form a filler. A filler is something to stretch the amount of meat into being more than you had before like bread crumbs. Casing is what holds the meat together to give it shape and pork or beef is used for the “snap” you get when biting into the meat. It may not have nutritional value but it is there for a reason. If I were muslim, jewish or anyone that just didn’t like pork I would only eat Kosher or Halal meat products because they are in fact marketed to be pork free unlike this sausage that says nothing of the sort.

Green Afro Diva January 25, 2011 - 12:35 PM

This isn’t difficult nor complicated. If I buy a vegan product that clearly says it’s vegan but on the back it has honey or beeswax in it, then it’s not vegan and it’s deceiving for them to put out a product that says it is. And BTW, a filler is anything that does not contribute any nutritional value to a product, be it preservatives, HFCS, corn, and others. If they can market a product that say it’s chicken then as a consumer, I’ll assume it has chicken and no other meat. It says chicken on the front of it’s product about 4 times. If other companies can disclose information and make the same product without pork in it, why can’t this company?. Here’s the company’s website http://www.aidells.com/allergen

Kitty January 23, 2011 - 3:37 PM

I usually just cut off the casing. I don’t buy the “solid” sausage, but the raw ones in the casing. Pork gives me a bit of migraines, so I cut off and toss the casing. No casing no migraines. ^_^

dana January 25, 2011 - 12:23 AM

I buy my chicken ssausage from Trader Joe’s to my knowledge their chicken sausage does not come in a pork casing, well at the least the one i buy doesnt, and they are much cheaper than traditional grocery stores.

Shante January 25, 2011 - 5:50 PM

My point exactly, if this sausage was labeled kosher or halal it wouldn’t have pork in it and you could assume that to be 100% true. The word sausage right there is your clue to check to see what kind of casing is used. Sausage is traditionally made with pork casing. If one knew how sausage was made they would know that. Casing holds the meat in the shape you need it to be in order for you to have a sausage link. You would be hard pressed to make a sausage link without casing, you would instead have a patty. It is not adding any bulk at all. I’ve made sausages I know what I’m talking about.
Fillers bulk up the weight of a product to increase weight so you have more food and can keep the price down. If I have 1 pound of meat and need to get 1 1/2 pounds I’ll add all sorts of fillers like bread crumbs or apple to bulk it up.
Preservatives are not fillers, they are adding to food in small quantities to prevent microbial growths. The amount of sodium nitrite that you would add to this sausage for instance would be so small that to call it a filler makes no sense because it isn’t adding bulk. If it was it would be so nasty that selling it would do harm to the company. It’s keeping the meat from growing Botulism while it is curing or sitting on the self.
Why would you assume anything about food that you didn’t sit there and prepare from scratch or grow? Spinach shouldn’t have E coli and it happens but people assume that it’s not meat so why take the same precautions as cooking a steak. That’s why I love this website because there are a lot of people assuming things about food without knowing everything about food. I’ve been a professional chef for years I don’t think I know everything about food and when I get egg on my face like this peanut butter I bought, I can only blame myself for not reading the label. After all they did disclose the ingredients and if I don’t like something I need not buy it.
Why don’t they make the product without pork? Well, because they don’t want to use a synthetic casing, it doesn’t have the same texture as the pork or beef. And they don’t have to and since no where do they say pork free they really don’t have to. That’s like someone telling me to make my food with stevia instead of regular sugar because someone else does. If you don’t like the way something is made don’t buy it. They disclose it is on the ingredient label. You keep saying that as if they don’t have it listed. If you want to assume something without reading the ingredient list that is no one’s fault but the consumer.
We clearly are never going to see eye to eye on this. I respect your opinion however I respectfully disagree.

Shante January 25, 2011 - 5:52 PM

Omg did I just write all of that? Sorry lol, didn’t mean to leave a novel.

Green Afro Diva January 25, 2011 - 6:52 PM

That’s ok. I run my own business and know what customers are looking for and know what buyers expectations are about products. My overall point was that if a company is selling a product that claims to be one thing, then it needs to live up to those claims and not expect consumers to find out otherwsie. It is within the company’s interest and it’s called corporate responsibility.

ChellBellz January 27, 2011 - 4:24 PM

I found a chicken Sausage that doesnt even use a casing. Its called Organic AirChilled Smart Chicken. When i saw this, I rushed home to see if mine had pork casing, and this didn’t even have casing, no nitrates, no gluten, its pretty good. I used it to make a Clean Pizza from that cookbook.

Shante January 27, 2011 - 5:20 PM

Just a heads up if you don’t eat pork you might want to email them before eating. Their website says they use 100% natural casing and that would be beef, pork or sheep. They might not list it in the ingredient label and that is wrong so is only saying 100% natural casing. Plus I can see casing on some of the sausages looking at the pictures. I can’t tell with the Gourmet links though because they are wrapped in plastic.

Michelle January 29, 2011 - 10:41 PM

I’m not sure if you were replying to me but there is no Pork at all in there, I checked the website and everything.

Sadiyah January 27, 2011 - 10:16 PM

I just brought chicken sausage for the first time this week and I dont eat pork for religious reasons so I just went and read the food label and low and behold its in pork casing. Thank you for this post and from now on I will be more contious of reading the ingredients not just the servings and calorie 🙁

Debra March 5, 2011 - 8:39 PM

This great, just great. Not!

Michelle of Chellbellz May 28, 2011 - 7:08 PM

Haha, I remember getting into it with the jerk on twitter about turkey bacon a couple weeks ago, he was so cocky because he swore up and down that pork was the devils work, and he made note to mention that every morning while calling all pork eaters all kinds of names. I sent him this link and he “shut right the H*ll up” in my Medea Voice. I’m so glad you re-posted this article. I’m still sticking to the sausage by Harris Teeter, no casings at all, and very delicious.

NicoleLisa May 28, 2011 - 7:39 PM

I had this same problem looking for turkey sausage…I was very shocked to see pork casing. I’m so glad I read the label.

Keba April 1, 2012 - 3:52 AM

I usually buy the pictured brand but now that I see the levels of cholesterol and sodium I will have to pass on them. I wouldn’t have thought that chicken sausage would be so high in cholesterol.

Leviah Israel September 15, 2013 - 11:38 PM

Its also pork in marshmallows, jello, yogart, frosted cereals, and a lot of other everyday foods so r!esearch that

Kristine September 20, 2013 - 4:17 PM

Im severely allergic to pork and check all labels religiously. I have yet to find any sort of sausage that is completely pork free. Also, you still have to be careful with kosher labels. Certain jewish (im not sure what to call them…groups? Churchs? Anyway I’m sure you know what I mean) accept pork as kosher. I found this out…also be careful to check anything with gelatin. Most gelatin is a pork by product (made from the collagen in the skin). So things like jello, marshmellows, most gummy candies (all gummy candies put out by black forest and trolli contain pork gelatin), even some yogurts. There’s a lot of pork hidden in our foods that most people don’t know about. I hope this information helps someone

Terri April 11, 2014 - 11:35 AM

You can rest assured that if you buy food that is certified kosher, it is pork free. There are dozens of different agencies around the world that do these certifications, however not one of them will certify anything made with pork or prepared on the Sabbath – multiple rules. If you google “kosher symbols” there is a site that shows most of the symbols used world wide. There are many different branches of Judaism and not one of them accept pork. There are, however. some Christian groups whose mission is to get Jews to accept Jesus as their savior. Unfortunately, their tactics are quite underhanded. They will set up shop in Jewish areas, hold Sabbath services on Saturdays, wear Jewish prayer shawls and call their leaders “Rabbi”. Many of them were Jewish and joined these groups. They prey on uneducated or fallen away Jews who don’t have much religious knowledge. They are particularly fond of trying to initiate Russian immigrants – as religion was banned for so many years there, many Jewish Russians have no religious education at all. The most popular of these groups call themselves Messianic Jews and they teach that you will not get to heaven unless you accept Jesus. Now, none of these “non-Jewish” Jews observe the kosher laws, so I believe that is where your misinformation comes from. None of them would be allowed to participate in the groups that certify food as kosher, so you don’t have to worry about finding pork in kosher foods. If you are unsure, phone your local Jewish Federation and describe the kosher symbol that was on the product. Now, there are some Jewish groups that will not accept the symbols of some other groups (It is a very long and complex story) but, still, none of the certified foods have pork. I hope that I have not offended anyone with my explanation. You could phone any rabbi at a local synagogue and he/she would be happy to help you. Don’t worry about getting a “non-Jewish rabbi, as most phone companies will only list messianic groups under the listing for “churches”.

Faustina Kocian July 6, 2014 - 6:10 PM

the hidden truth: all sausages are made like this

Erika Nicole Kendall July 6, 2014 - 6:55 PM

What, with pork? Nope. Not true.

Dronile H. August 8, 2015 - 10:59 PM

Erika,

Which brand did you ultimately end up with? I have been looking for chicken sausages, but as your post points out I have been dissuaded by their list of ingredients!

Erika Nicole Kendall August 10, 2015 - 10:46 AM

It’s hard, because some form of cellulose – fat – has to be used as casing for most sausages. There’s sausage cased in lamb, sausage cased in artificial cellulose, any number of options at this point.

I actually really like the sausages by Bilinsky, because they’re tasty annnnnd actually don’t use any casing at all.

Hope that helps!

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