Certain hams sold in supermarkets do not deserve this appellation, the Test Achats consumer-protection association reported on Tuesday, based on the results of a comparative test. Many of the tested products contained so many additives and fillings that they did not even conform to the definition of cooked ham, noted Test Achats, which is calling on manufacturers to list the meat content on product labels.
According to the association, eight of the 34 products tested had no information on the percentage of meat they contained. Ten reported a meat content of less than 95%, while one mentioned just 72%. Three of the tested hams did not match the legal definition of ham or barely matched it: they contained too much water and too little animal protein.
Two ingredients are enough to make cooked ham, Test Achats recalls: the upper pig leg and brine. However, the association observed that the industrial versions sold by supermarkets contained many other elements. Some manufacturers do not hesitate to add cheaper fillings such as water, starch or gelatin. Moreover, pre-wrapped cooked hams often contain a series of additives used to enhance the colour, texture and conservation of the product. These include nitrates, nitrite, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), food acids, anti-oxydants, polyphosphates, thickeners and flavouring.