Report on Meat Content of Meat Pies

July September 1996

Report Prepared by Simon Christen

1. OBJECTIVE

1.1 This second follow up survey was to assess the current situation regarding the meat content of locally produced meat pies.

1.2 The survey also collected information concerning core temperature and the price of pies. Food sold 'hot' should be kept at or above 60 C to minimise bacterial contamination and the likelihood of food poisoning while the price of pies may be correlated to their meat content, which was also investigated.

2. Background

A survey conducted by the Health Protection Service (the Service) in early 1993 found that 36% of the pies tested failed to comply with meat content requirement of the Food Standards Code (FSC). A follow up survey conducted in the second half of 1994 found that the situation had deteriorated where 57% of the pies tested contained less than the 25% meat content requirement.

3. Justification

As mentioned in the Background, two previous surveys have identified that locally produced pies show a high non compliance to meat content requirement for these products (25% meat). This third survey is aimed at monitoring the current compliance rate and to seek an appropriate response for improvement. This may consist of collection of statutory samples, increased education and awareness for manufacturers and possible media attention to inform consumers.

4. Food Standard

Standard C4 Meat Pie And Meat And Vegetable Pie defines meat pie as a pie consisting of a cooked meat filling that is encased wholly or substantially in pastry, but does not include a sausage roll or a pastie.

Clause 2(1) requires a meat pie that weighs more than 70 grams shall contain not less than 250 g/kg of meat.

Clause 2(3) requires that the meat in a meat pie shall contain not more than 333 g/kg of fat.

5. Results

Meat Content of Pies

 

Pie Graph

There were 60 single serve meat pie samples collected from various bakeries and hot bread shops of Canberra in the period from June to the middle of September by staff of the laboratory, usually at the period leading to lunch time. The pies were analysed at the laboratory for their meat content and for the fat content of the meat portion and the results are summarised in the above chart. The results do not appear to indicate a major change from the 1994 survey results where in both cases, approximately half of the pies failed the meat content requirement of the FSC.

For this survey, it is interesting to note that of those that fail the meat requirement, 24 out of 28 have a meat content of between 20 and 25% and the remaining 4 have a meat content above 15%. This is a marked improvement from the 1994 survey which is indicated in the following graphs showing the frequency distribution of the samples relative to their % meat content:

 

Graph
Graph


The results also show that 3 samples were above 40% meat, which all were produced by the one manufacturer. This is pleasing to note that quality pies (with regard to meat content) have a market place in Canberra.

The results for the fat content of the meat between the two surveys also showed a similar improvement. In 1994, 23% of the pies failed the FSC requirement and for this survey, only 5% failed. This is probably the result of manufacturers using leaner meat to produce their meat pies.

 

Graph
Graph


Price correlation of Pies

The results show a positive correlation of 0.62 between the price and the meat content of pies.

Temperature of Pies

As shown by the graph, the majority of pies were satisfactorily hot. These results show that there is good compliance to the sale of hot pies. 15% of the pies were below 60 C and the most probable reason was that they had not fully warmed.

6. Discussion

There appears to be a marked improvement in the quality of pies (with regard to the meat content) and manufacturers should be congratulated. There is however a large proportion of pies that just fall short of the mark with a meat content of between 20 and 25%. To address this concern, the Service may consider embarking upon further education for manufacturers of locally produced meat pies and to increase their statutory awareness of the regulations concerning these products.

All pies where reasonably priced and demonstrated a marked correlation between the price and the meat content. At the time of testing, all pies priced $2.00 or more passed the meat content requirement. The cheapest pies purchased for the survey were $1.20 and of these, seven passed the meat content requirement and three failed. This shows that in order to pass the meat content requirement, manufacturers can produce a competitively priced pie.

Temperature control of pies was very satisfactory. There appears to be no concern in this regard to the sale of pies.

7. Conclusion

Meat pies are widely consumed in Canberra, especially during the winter months. Many of the local hot bread shops and bakeries throughout the region produce meat pies along with other hot pies and pastries. The majority (53%) of meat pies tested in this survey conform to the meat content requirement and also pass the fat content requirement (95%) of the FSC.

Of the pies that do not conform (47%) to the meat requirement, a large portion of those (86%) are just short of the mark with a meat content of between 20 and 25%. This is an improvement from the previous survey and manufacturers should be congratulated for their efforts.

8. Recommendation

Future testing of meat pies should possibly be confined to manufacturers where past survey results show non compliance and possibly the inclusion of random spot tests of other manufacturers.

9. Agencies

Health Protection Service

ACT Government Analytical Laboratory, Food Chemistry Section