What do supermarket hamburgers contain?

There is no doubt about it, Britain loves burgers. In fact, it is estimated that the market is worth 3 billion pounds annually. But do Britons actually care what is in their supermarket burger? The next time you are browsing in the meat section of groceries, here is a possible scenario of what is in your patties.

The law and labelling

Food standards dictate that ingredients be actually labelled in products that we buy. In the case of burgers, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) classifies burgers into two categories: standard and economy.
  • Standard beef burger
  • Under the category standard beef burger, the product must contain at least 62% of beef. The rest will be made up of stabilisers, water, seasoning and other extracts. The same holds true if a supplier will sell any other type of burger. In the case of poultry burgers, the meat percentage must be at least 55%. Pork burgers, on the other hand, must contain a minimum of 67% meat from pigs.

  • Economy beef burger
  • Meat content goes down when you are looking at an economy beef burger. In this case, meat percentage should be at least 47. For chicken burgers, it will be 41% and pork, 50%.

    A definition of what is actually considered meat exists under European law which is, 'skeletal muscle with naturally included or adherent fat and connective tissue'. Meat that has been removed using pressure blasting must be labelled as such, mechanically removed or mechanically stripped meat.

    Hence, if you look closely at the labels of your burgers, you will see what is actually in them. Of course, the horse meat scandal came to light only because testing was done.

    Do people care?

    Is it a surprise then that another type of meat different to the one we expect ends up in our supermarket bought burgers? Probably not. With the rock bottom prices of burgers sold by different supermarkets, we ultimately get what we pay for. If in doubt what's in your burgers, start making your own so you are sure what your are putting into your patties.

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