Fresh sausages don’t need preservatives

Fresh sausages don’t need preservatives. So why do most sausages have additives, nitrates and sulphites? Firstly, nitrates and sulphites make better business sense. Unfortunately, the bottom line comes before making chemical free products. It is much easier to make large batches of sausages, that have longer shelf life, rather than smaller batches that only last 5 days. Why not just freeze fresh sausages? Freezing rather than preservatives is the best way to keep chemical free sausages for longer. Sausages really don’t need preservatives.Traditional English Humble Sausage - Cumberland
It’s why as a company, O’Hagan’s have never gone to next level and supplied big supermarket chains because we won’t put chemical preservatives in. No Artificial Anything has been our slogan since we started back in 1988 and has been drummed into me from a very young age. It something I am extremely passionate about.
Secondly, flavour enhancers and additives are just sausage makers being lazy. They could use the vast and almost infinite combination of natural ingredients, herbs and spices to create great tasting sausages, but they take artificial shortcuts.
Look don’t get me wrong, I eat stuff with these nasties in because some foods need them but never let anyone tell you fresh sausages do. For me, its common sense that products with chemical additives are not good for us. Two of the main ones used in sausages are nitrates and sulphites. Both are naturally occurring but chemically made versions are what go into sausages.

Are Nitrate preservatives Bad for Us?

Nitrates occur naturally in foods like spinach and celery, research shows there is a big difference between naturally occurring and chemically made nitrates. Chemically made ones have all sorts of links to harmful diseases like cancer. When they are eaten, they convert to nitrites from bacteria in the mouth and enzymes in the body. The main problem with nitrites comes when the product they are in, cook at high heat and nitrosamines form. Nitrosamines are said to be a high risk to health and cause cancer.
To be fair the UK sausage industry has made huge steps forward compared to when we started in 1988. Then sausages were rife with nitrates but now a very small amount of UK fresh sausage makers use them. If you see fresh sausages with nitrates in, I would avoid.

Move to sulphite as preservatives an improvement but not ideal

Unfortunately, although nitrate use has declined, other chemical preservatives have taken their place. Look on the back of all supermarket and most butchers’ sausages and there will still be a list of sulphites or E numbers. Sulphites to be fair are a better preservative than nitrates, if such a thing
From all the research I’ve done, far less studies link cancer with sulphites then nitrites. I have found some that say, ‘the sulphites and other additives may cause colorectal cancer’, however none clearly prove a direct link.
Sulphites do naturally occur in some foods and the body, in fact they are needed by the body. However, what is proven, like nitrates, the chemically made versions are very different. They are an allergen and can seriously irritate asthma sufferers and those with kidney and liver problems. I should note any of our sausages with wine in have a small amount of sulphites because of the wine. We add none!!! No preservatives are added what so ever!

Prefer mine with wine and salami please!

Just because experts say things are bad for us, doesn’t mean we have to stop eating them. One week, a few glasses of wine are good for us. The next, it’s devils’ water that’s eating away at our body.
I’m a great believer in balance in life. Too much of anything is bad. Even doing too much exercise (so I tell myself when I am meant to be at the gym). Having some chemical nitrates and sulphites in a diet is not going to kill us. It’s about not having too much.
Just because fresh sausages don’t need preservatives,  other things do. I would much rather have that intake from things like wine (definitely not giving up wine), and salami. Wine tends to use sulphites and salami nitrates. Both have process that mean drying and fermentation take place over a long period. The chemicals are crucial in that process to stop spoilage. Sausages don’t have that process, they are made and then ready to sell. Have your chemical intake in things that need them, not things that don’t.

Studies drive me mental

Processed food is under the cosh from studies that are linking high intake to cancer. What drives me crazy is they don’t differentiate between processed food with preservatives and those without. I am positive sausages without chemicals are better for you than those with.


As I’ve said, I am certainly not one for believing all food scares. It’s about having a balanced diet. I would just rather have preservatives in things that need them. Not things that don’t, like fresh sausages. Fresh sausages don’t need preservatives!

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