Friday, May 21, 2010

More than meats the eye

For the sake of integrity, I am going to start this post with the admission I am a vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian for just over 17 years, so the idea of scoffing down a pie that may or may not contain a selection of random animal intestines is not my idea of a good time – yet for many Australians (predominately men?) a meat pie is the ultimate indulgence.

It wasn’t that long ago that a study was conducted on Australia’s pies and discovered many ‘meat’ pies didn’t really fall into the category of meat at all. To qualify for the name meat pie, the Food Standards Code states a pie has to contain 25% ‘meat flesh’.

Now I am not going to dwell too much on what that really means as just the thought is already turning my stomach - but I have to ask, do people really care what’s in their meat pie? I am I hypocritical to think a meat pie containing offal is disgusting – I guess if we are going to kill animals for food, we should be ensuring we use the entire animal.

Moving on. According to CHOICE, Australia’s consumer watchdog, Australian’s spend more than $127 million buying meat pies and eat over 18,500 tonnes of them every year. Rather than focusing on commercial and bakery brands, CHOICE has run a test on 20 meat pies commonly available in the supermarket to see which was the most nutritious, the meatiest, and the tastiest.

CHOICE spokesperson Christopher Zinn says: “We covered most of the national brands stocked in the frozen section of the supermarket. Scoring well on all three criteria, the Elmsbury (Aldi) Bakehouse Premium Grain Fed Beef Pie was the overall winner. It had good meat content, was comparatively lower in fat and sodium, and tasted good. While not the cheapest pie we tested, it does offer value for money as a premium pie that’s nutritionally better than others on the market.”

Herbert Adams King Island Gourmet Premium Beef Pies have 38.5% meat, taking out first place for the meatiest pie. CHOICE says Four’N Twenty took out the title of tastiest meat pie followed closely by Black & Gold.

“If it takes a fair shake of the sauce bottle to make your pie edible, then perhaps you should be eating something else,” Christopher says. “Meat pies are OK as an occasional meal but there are many healthier, and tastier options.”

The Four and Twenty Lite pie carries the Heart Foundation Tick and had the lowest kilojoule content and total fat content of the tested pies.

So what do you think – do you love or hate pies? Is there a frozen pie in your supermarket you swear by?

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