The report claimed that Russian manufacturers were indulging in widespread use of cheaper substitutes for pork and beef, including soy, collagen, starch, emulsions, nutritional supplements, cellulose and parts of animal skins. Some sausages almost contained no meat, while other samples were found to contain so much salt that eating 70-80g of the product would cover a consumer’s daily sodium requirements, said the report. Such a high level of salt posed a threat to the cardiovascular system, it added.
Among other points, the study discovered a strong overuse of phosphates in Russian-made sausages. “Phosphates can increase the water content in food products, resulting in lower production costs,” explained Alexander Borisov, head of Roscontrol. “Phosphorus compounds are being widely used in sausages and a variety of semi-finished products. Given the lack of calcium in the diet of most Russians, any excess of phosphorus can lead to metabolic disruption, with calcium washed out from the bones. This greatly increases the risk of developing osteoporosis.”
Roscontrol accused Russia’s largest sausages producers, including Cherkizovsky Meat Processing Plant and Dymov, of falsifying products with the use of cheap ingredients. Representatives from the manufacturing companies cited have so far refrained from any comment on the situation.
Meanwhile, Russia’s veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has not indicated any measures to deal with the problem, claiming that it sees no significant safety issues in the market.
“We have no problems with product safety issues from the meat processing plants, so there is no reason for unscheduled inspections in the coming months,” said Alexei Alexeenko, assistant to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor. “However, we do have some quite serious quality issues, as some manufacturers are using moisture retention substances, as well as other ingredients.”
However, some market participants believe the situation could have negative consequences for the country’s sausage industry. A spokesperson in the Russian Health Ministry said: “Many consumers refrain from purchasing sausages. Numerous studies in previous years have suggested that the country’s meat products are not very beneficial to health, due to their high fat content. But the new data may result in a much more serious impact on consumption of these products, since it has been claimed they are directly dangerous to health.”
Some producers have admitted to quality problems, stating that this is primarily connected to the desire by some companies to decrease production costs in order to constrain the rise in market prices. This, they believe, is particularly important amid falling demand and the reduced purchasing power of the population.