Small-scale sausage production


I.V. Savic
FAO Consultant

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ISBN 92-5-102187-2

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Meat is an extremely complex raw material in which a single factor results in a series of interrelated changes and processes. Throughout many varying and intricate operations, an ingenious sausage maker, skilled in his task, has to stimulate those desired structural and chemical changes and processes which lead to conversion of raw meat into a final sausage product that his customers want.

Although sausage manufacture has had a long and colourful history, developments over the past few decades have led to process affording a wide variety of new sausage products, including new types of frankfurters, salamis, etc. Several recent developments have been possible only because of the processing knowledge gained over many years' experience in traditional small-scale sausage manufacture. Probably the most significant development has been in the field of meat science and biochemistry, which established a close liaison between the traditional sausage-making art and modern industrial processing. This liaison has since led to notable advances in the introduction of new types of machines in the application of new chemical additives, new types of casings, packaging materials, etc. Simultaneously, there have also been changes in the concepts of basic procedures and processes used in sausage manufacture.

Although the size and scope of sausage manufacture have undergone a tremendous metamorphosis in recent years, the rationale behind today's small-scale sausage production and traditional practices remains the same, namely, obtaining a product of high organoleptical value and longer shelf life. There is every reason to believe that still greater rewards can be expected if further developments will be based on the sound experience of traditional sausage-making practices. Consequently, this manual will describe processing of different groups of sausages in terms of technological interdependence between modern knowledge and traditional techniques and experience.

In the text the emphasis is placed upon the basic techniques and knowledge that govern the operations of sausage manufacture. A special part is devoted to the layout and equipment for sausage plants. In small-scale sausage production there is a high degree of local variation both in the manner of spicing and the types of sausages demanded and it is for this reason that properties of different meats, the use of spices and types of casings are especially considered. The formulations and processing methods used in the production of conventional and novel sausages, including all-beef products, are also presented with special care. Factors affecting the quality and storage of sausages are described for each individual group but keeping quality problems from the standpoint of sausage distribution are further discussed in the last chapter.

The manual has been written in such way to be of use to those new to sausage manufacture as well as to established meat processors who often need specific information when projecting future plants.

Hyperlinks to non-FAO Internet sites do not imply any official endorsement of or responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at these locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. The sole purpose of links to non-FAO sites is to indicate further information available on related topics.





Development of sausage manufacture

Changing pattern of sausage technology

Development of new sausage products

Some peculiarities of sausage plant management

Classification of sausages


General requirements for establishing a sausage plant

Commercial considerations


Building materials,floors and walls


Sausage plant layout

Receiving and chilling section

Cutting and trimming section

Nonmeat ingredients section

Meat chopping, mixing and stuffing section

Smoking and cooking section

Wrapping, storage and dispatch section

Basic sausage plant equipment

Grinder (mincer)


Tumbler (massager)

Cutter (chopper)

Emulsifying mill

Frozen meat cutting machines







Muscle meats

Meats of high and low water binding properties

Superior sausage making properties of hot boned beef

Fatty tissue

Some observations concerning the choice and use of beef fat in sausage products

Variety meats

Storage of meat raw materials

Binders, fillers and extenders

Salt (sodium chloride)

Nitrite and nitrate

Ascorbate and erythorbate



Colouring agents


Natural spices

Essential oils


Soluble spices or liquid forms of extractives

Dry spices or dry forms of extractives

Spice blends

Sterilized spices

Other spice properties



1. Natural casings

Pig casings

- Pig stomachs (or “maws”)

- Small pig casings (pig rounds)

- Pig caps (caecum) and pig large intestines (middles)

- Pig bungs

- Pig bladders

Beef casings

- Weasands (esophagus of cattle)

- Beef rounds (“runners”)

- Beef bungs

- Beef middles

- Beef bladders

Sheep and goat casings

Sewn casings

Preparation of natural casings for stuffing

2. Artificial casings

3. Stuffing, and thread and clip closures


Use of prerigor meat in fresh sausage production

Shelf life of fresh sausages

Fresh sausage formulations

1. Fresh pork sausages

2. Fresh beef sausages for grilling

3. Curry beef-mutton sausages

4. Sausage-burger (hamburger)

5. Merguez (Mergés)


Semidry sausages

Dry sausages

Operations in fermented sausage production

Choice of raw materials

Grinding, chopping and mixing


Treatment prior to smoking



Traditional and modern methods of sausage fermentation


Fermented sausage formulations

1. Summer sausages

2. Air-dried sausages

3. Pepperoni

4. Pork and beef chorizos

5. Beef salamis

6. Turkish and oriental style raw beef sausages

7. Landjaegers

8. Basic formulations for selected large and small diameter fermented sausages


1. Smoked pork sausage

2. Precooked pork sausages

3. Smoked beef sausages

4. Precooked beef sausages

5. Smoked precooked beef sausages

6. Chinese sausages


Operations in emulsion-type sausage production

Choice of meat




Impact of the chopping operation on emulsion-type sausage quality

Hot meat processing

Preblending of prerigor meat

Emulsified fat batters




Liquid smoke



1. Frankfurters (wieners)

2. Bologna

3. Mortadella

4. Chicken frankfurters

5. Basic formulations for selected emulsion-type sausages


1. Liver sausages

2. Blood sausages

3. Head cheeses

4. Meat loaves


Keeping quality


Water activity

Control of sausage spoilage and deterioration

Delivery of sausages to retailers

Sale of sausages


Sausages are products in which fresh comminuted meats are modified by various processing methods to yield desirable organoleptic and keeping properties. Sausages are one of the oldest forms of meat processing and modern sausage technology has its roots deeply embedded in history.


How and when the first sausage was produced is not known since sausage manufacture antedates recorded history. There are numerous documents testifying that ancient civilizations made and consumed sausages some thousands of years ago. The Romans made “circelli”, “tomacinae”, “butuli” and other types of delicious sausage products which were eaten during annual orgiastic festivals and sacrifices. Sausages made of tripe and other by-products were particularly consumed by the poorer classes of the Roman population. The early Christian Church prohibited the eating of sausages in Rome for many years.

Fig 1

(Photo taken by Dr A. Sedky, FAO expert at a temple in Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Egypt)

People in the middle ages also consumed many sausages. It is interesting to note that various types of sausages have been produced in an unbroken line through the years in different localities under the climatic and social conditions of various geographical areas. Thus, many sausages popular today were renowned throughout the world many centuries ago.

Refrigeration has played a major role in the development of sausage manufacture. Before the advent of mechanical refrigeration, sausage manufacturing plants were located in the vicinity of the city slaughterhouse, preferably not far from the market, so that both highly perishable meat raw materials and final sausage products were able to move quickly. With refrigeration, sausage manufacture has changed and different types and forms of sausages have been introduced. New trends and tastes in markets throughout the world are continually creating new demands for sausage manufacture and product changes.

While in Europe and North America the higher prices of beef and years of tradition have favoured pork sausage manufacture, the plentiful supply of low price beef and food habits in many developing countries have justified fresh beef consumption and processing. It would be a misconception to believe that people living in warm climates are not sausage consumers. Nearly all meat consumers in the warm regions of the world produce either typical sausages, stuffed in casings or wrapped in leaves, or, more often, many types of comminuted colourfully seasoned sausage-like products, enjoyed especially in the evening or during various festive periods; the latter, usually beef, mutton or fish products, can sometimes be very popular.

In some parts of the world, the production of sausages is complicated by religious or sentimental considerations and habits. In certain parts of southeast Asia cattle slaughter is not allowed, in other regions of Asia or in some areas of Africa, pigs are not killed, and occasionally, in many developing countries some people do not consume certain parts or organs of the slaughtered animals. Other problems arise with the production and consumption of meat, including sausages, in warm climatic regions which differ from those encountered in the temperate zones.

Although sausage manufacture in the developing world presents many specific problems, there are untapped opportunities for profitable sausage manufacture in all parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia. These opportunities are especially high where important meat resources are locally available and where extended livestock production offers excellent raw materials for processing.


Although sausage technology involving varietal differences, chemical composition, microbiology and processing methods has developed more in the last twenty years than in the previous 3000 years, many technical details in modern sausage production have still remained an art. This is especially true for small-scale production. However, particularly in the sausage producing segment of the meat industry, many aspects of modern meat technology, combined with traditional meat processing practices, are applied. Therefore, it is possible to say that sausage production today is in a permanent evolutionary phase and new changes, based on new technological advances, are continuously in sight.

In the last decade, a large number of innovations and improvements have been developed in the field of sausage manufacture. Apart from mechanization and automatization trends and other advances in large-scale sausage production, considerable innovations in the small batch type of operations and processes have also been made. Development of new types of sausages from meats other than beef, pork or mutton, particularly from poultry meat, also shows considerable promise. Every change made by sausage manufacturers, from ingredients to processing, has the potential of requiring a series of related changes in sausage formulation, seasoning, etc.

Development of new sausage products.

A need for development of innovative and unique high quality sausage products using the greatest possible efficiency, experience and new knowledge is permanently present in all segments of the sausage manufacturing field. The small sausage manufacturer in particular is facing competition from precooked convenience meat food items and other meat meal products. The goal of the small manufacturer is to increase growth and hold his market share of customers. This goal can be achieved by continued development of new value-added sausage products and by taking advantage of present processing equipment and knowledge.

A value-added sausage utilizes one or more low-cost raw material in combination with other ingredients to create a sausage which can be sold at a higher price. An example of a value-added sausage product are frankfurters. Frankfurters utilize both low-value trimmings and even by-products, combined with adequate technological knowledge, to create a higher-value sausage.

The custom fit of a new sausage formula into sausage plant production often requires modification of the original formula. Versatility in the usual sausage processing line can create not only one but several new products for the market. For example, a simple grind-mix-grind system with a stuffer not only produces a fresh sausage but also a variety of other products.

The quality aspects of a new product determine the product's continued success. A new sausage product must be delicious in flavour and exhibit a desirable texture. Visually poor-looking products do not attract customers. Especially in warm climates, the shelf life of a product determines whether an initial purchase will be made. Certain modifications are required according to geographical area, such as hot or mild seasoning or the product's physical appearance, etc. Briefly, excellent quality in new sausage items is a must and this can be accomplished without high-cost materials.

The time is past when a sausage manufacturer drew up his own sausage formulation independently and meat and other ingredient suppliers were only required to meet them. Today the development of a sausage specification starts while a new product is still in the planning stages. The specification then remains open to adjustments on a continuing basis to adapt to changes in both the meat and other raw material supply. Through careful raw material and product quality control, the sausage manufacturer can adjust to these changes by blending raw materials to achieve cosistent quality of his finished products.

Some peculiarities of sausage plant management.

While the slaughterman in a sequence of operations disassembles the killed animal, removing all organs and tissues and the butcher, through cutting and boning, still further reduces the size of the meat pieces, the sausage manufacturer, on the contrary, in a series of successive specialized operations fits together the different meat and nonmeat components, converting them into a new product. This fact influences by far the character and nature of the sausage manufacturing process, its organization and management. Whoever plans to be associated with sausage manufacture must master these specialized operations, have a basic technical knowledge and be prepared to apply these in the everyday practice of a quickly changing developing world.

The ownership of a slaughterhouse, its vicinity and organization also influence the management of a sausage plant in several ways. Firstly, the sausage manufacturer may slaughter his own animals and pay a certain fee to the slaughterhouse authority; the maintenance of a hygienic standard remains the duty of the authority. Secondly, where there is a large throughput, the sausage manufacturer collects only the dressed carcasses and some by-products and transfers them from the slaughterhouse to his processing plant. Thirdly, the sausage manufacturer may be the owner of the slaughterhouse which is specifically designed for the sausage plant. Other numerous situations are also possible which cannot be foreseen with accuracy.

Sausage production makes up that important segment of the complex meat industry field which converts the raw material of a slaughtered animal into meat products of a higher value. With sausage manufacturing techniques the animal by-products are also revalorized, thus contributing to economic and social development. The sausage manufacturer distributes his products to retailers, restaurants, hotels, etc. or sells them directly to consumers. Therefore, in small-scale sausage production, there is no clear distinction between where production ends and where marketing begins.

The sausage plant layout, described in the following chapter, has primarily been designed to meet the requirements of small-scale production with limited sales. Layouts for larger plants required to serve larger areas must allow not only more room for meat storage and for dealing with larger amounts of other raw materials but also for the more sophisticated technology and organization needed.

Meat processing and meat consumption differ widely between countries and regions. The type of sausage plant and type of sausage product that can be recommended for one region may involve too large an investment or be totally or partly inapplicable in many other regions. This is the reason why inevitably there will be circumstances under which some of the technological suggestions or methods, given in the following chapters, will seem out of place. The formulations given are intended to indicate some of the specific raw materials, their rations and the techniques applied, which will frequently be found useful, but not to present specific formulae for application in all cases. The sausage manufacturer should select what appears suitable and advantageous for the solution of his own particular problem and apply it with modifications appropriate to the conditions under which he is operating.


Sausages are usually defined as comminuted seasoned meats, stuffed into casings; they may be smoked, cured, fermented and heated. They are made from any edible part of the slaughtered, veterinary-inspected animal, and a series of nonmeat ingredients. Good sausages cannot be made from inferior or unsatisfactory raw material. A sausage formulation is always a compromise between the expected quality of the finished product, the cost of raw materials and the techniques applied. The production of a wide variety of sausages is possible through the manipulation of different variables such as meat formulation, processing temperature, types of casing and particle size. By altering certain processing treatments, changes occur within the product's texture and flavour, moisture content, porcentage of yield and other attributes. The number and variety of sausages are limited only by the manufacturer's imagination and knowledge.

The meat or spice formula cannot be used for purposes of sausage classification because many sausage formulations include similar combinations of different meats and seasonings. Moreover, the proportions of the various meat types and spices used vary periodically due to seasonality in raw material supply.

In spite of their multiple varieties, sausages may be roughly divided into two general groups: raw sausages and heat processed sausages. According to the methods applied in their manufacture, raw sausages may further be subdivided into two categories: fresh sausages and fermented sausages. Similarly, heat processed sausages are classified in smoked precooked sausages, emulsion-type sausages and cooked sausages.

  1. Fresh sausages are made from fresh meats which are, as a rule, neither cured, smoked, fermented nor cooked. Fresh sausages must be kept under refrigeration prior to eating. They are heated by the consumer himself before serving.

  2. Fermented sausages are made from cured or uncured, fermented and often smoked meats but they are not heat processed in any way; they are divided into semidry and dry sausages.

  3. Smoked precooked sausages are mostly cured, nonfermented products; their shelf life is increased by heating due to partial reduction of their moisture content; they are usually finally cooked before consumption.

  4. Emulsion-type sausages comprise ready-to-eat products made from comminuted and well-homogenized cured meats, fatty tissue, water and seasonings, usually smoked and slightly cooked. In Europe, these sausages are known as “scalded” because they are only scalded (pasteurized) and not fully cooked. An important subgroup of larger diameter emulsion-type sausages includes products containing, in addition to previously cured meats, diced or cut into distinctive small pieces.

  5. Cooked sausages are ready-to-serve products, basically made from previously cooked fresh or exceptionally cured raw materials, subjected to final cooking after stuffing, with or without additional smoking. A subgroup of these sausages consists of cooked or baked specialities that are not stuffed into casings but moulded and, therefore, not always considered as sausages.