By Jack Peat, Editor of The London Economic
If there was ever a meat in need of a bit of PR TLC it’s pork, and it’s right now.
A week after a report by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer was revealed and the meat, a staple part of the British diet, is still reeling after researchers placed processed meats such as sausages and bacon in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco and asbestos.
The British press has been less than kind in the wake of the report, with Porkgate dominating headlines and scaring the bejeebers out of innocent red top readers who are still accustomed to believing the sensationalist tosh over a bacon butty every morning.
The reality of the report was that, like any ‘treat’, a bacon sandwich every once in a while is unlikely to do you any harm at all. Studies have shown that UK consumers on average eat 17g of processed meat a day, far less than the 50g amount declared hazardous by the IARC.
But that’s not how the news was reported, nor is it how the country reacted. The fallout of Black Monday is that bacon and sausages give you cancer; how’s that for a PR slap!
So it is perhaps fortuitous that British Sausage Week has fallen one week on from the national health scare, armed with a re-hashed remit of mopping up the mess created by the WHO. This year’s theme is ‘sausages of distinction’, and it is one AHDB comms team manager Stephen Farmer thinks could change the perception of sausages for the good. Speaking in PR Week, he said: “This isn’t an initiative that’s been rushed together just after Monday.
“It initially was started out as us trying to ‘premiumise’ sausages, getting people to buy up, and it draws attention to local produce, local butchers, farmers and sustainability.”
Sausages attaining Red Tractor certification standards are not classified as processed meat, but fresh meat, and thus do not qualify under the IARC’s guidance. A headline-grabbing sausage costing £37 has been unveiled by a butcher in Hampshire which has been dubbed the world’s most expensive sausage. The banger, which includes Mangalitsa pork, truffles, Stilton cheese, powdered cep mushrooms and vintage 1947 port, would cost £700 per kilo and has been created for “those sausage connoisseurs with a more discerning taste”.
Renowned chef Michel Roux Jnr is leading the way in celebrating the highest quality pork sausages from around the country, saying that “it’s time to rethink the humble banger and look beyond mash and gravy to give sausages a bit of the Michelin-star treatment!” With gourmet versions of everyday foods becoming increasingly popular, this year’s seven-day sausage festival could be precisely the treatment sausages need after a rough week at the hands of the World Health Organisation.
British Sausage Week Recipes from Love Pork