South Africa’s strict rules for boerewors and burgers must be enforced

The South African Meat Producers Association (Sampa) says it hopes the Food Safety Agency will actively and effectively enforce new regulations on raw meat products.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development issued updated regulations for raw meat products on Monday.

This resulted in reports stating that the department had stipulated a definition of what is and is not considered “boerewors”.

However, Sampa CEO Peter Gordon told the Sunday Times that regulations for boerewors and sausage have been in place for years.

Gordon said the new regulations consolidated other raw meat products, which the industry welcomed.

Before the updated regulations, rules for various meat products were fragmented across different documents.

“There are 13 categories covered by the regulations,” the Sunday Times quoted Gordon as saying.

“It’s easier now for the industry to have one document with an explanation of what they need to do.”

Gordon predicted the regulations would lead to more honest labelling by the retail and butchery sectors.

He dismissed concerns that the regulations would increase prices, except for producers who weren’t following the rules to begin with.

Gordon said some unscrupulous producers called products boerewors with only 70% or 65% meat content.

“We expect prosecution of those selling products that don’t meet the required standards,” Gordon said.

“This is a great regulation that is long overdue, and am sure there are a few dodgy operators who will be worried about this.”

He raised concerns that consumers don’t understand the difference between boerewors and braaiwors.

Under the regulations, boerewors must have a 90% total meat content and no more than 30% fat. It may not contain mechanically recovered meat, colourants, or offal other than the casing.

Braaiwors, on the other hand, only needs to be 60% total meat equivalent and 40% actual meat. It may also not have more than 30% fat but may contain edible offal, mechanically recovered meat, colourants, and other foodstuffs.

For added ingredients, boerewors and braaiwors may contain cereal, starch, vinegar, spices, herbs, salt, food additives, and water. Braaiwors may also contain vegetable protein.

Boerewors may only contain domesticated meat — beef, sheep, pork, and goat — whereas braaiwors may contain wild game, chicken, and other domesticated animals.

For those who prefer wild game — or any meats other than beef, mutton, lamb, pork, and goat — but find the braaiwors regulations too relaxed, the department has “species” and “mixed-species” definitions.

This keeps many of the same restrictions as boerewors, but relaxes the meat content to 75%.

For single-species raw meat products, the name of the animal that makes up the 75% meat content must be in the product name.

The table below summarises the difference between braaiwors, boerewors, and “species” wors.

Requirement Braaiwors Boerewors Species / mixed-species wors
Meat content 60% meat equivalent (40% actual meat) 90% 75%
Fat content 30% 30%
Offal Yes Only intestine/casing
Mechanically recovered meat Yes No
Colourants Yes No
Added ingredients
  • cereal or starch and/or vegetable protein
  • vinegar, spices, herbs and/or salt
  • food additives
  • water
  • cereal and/or starch
  • vinegar, spices, herbs and/or salt
  • food additives
  • water
Other foodstuffs Yes No

BusinessTech reported that the regulations contain definitions for “lean”, “extra lean”, and “regular” raw meat products.

As a general rule, extra lean meat has less than 5% analysed fat content. Products calling themselves extra trim, trimmed fat, or anything similar must comply with this minimum.

Lean or trim meat has a fat content of between 5% and 10%, while regular meat has a maximum fat content of 30%.

The regulations also create several categories of burgers, as follows:

  • Ground burger patties require a minimum meat content of 99.6%, with no other edible offal or added ingredients allowed. Any lean or extra lean labels need to follow the fat content guidelines.
  • Regular burger patties must have at least 70% meat, with no other ingredients except cereals or starch, vinegar, spices and herbs, food additives or water. Mechanically recovered meat, colourants or vegetable proteins are also not allowed.
  • Value burger patties must be 60% meat equivalent and 55% actual meat. It allows edible offal, mechanically recovered meat, colourants, and other foodstuffs.
  • Economy burger patties have a 55% meat equivalent minimum, and only require 35% actual meat.


Now read: Why fast food should have warning labels in South Africa

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South Africa’s strict rules for boerewors and burgers must be enforced