Monday, 28 May 2012

Australian meat pies are full of meat?

The Australian meat pie has long been the required food to eat at the footy (any code) and at the races (horse that is). Back in the 70’s the pie was served with a complimentary squirt of tomato sauce, now you have to pay extra for a single serve squeezy packet sauce that doesn’t really insert the sauce into the pie. In those days I had a pie in one hand and a beer in the other with attention on the game/race and can’t really remember too much about the pie. I do know that it didn’t disintegrate and gravy did not run down my arm, and so the pastry must have been good and the filling not watery. My trouble and strife (wife) swears that the pies sold at the games, same name, same make, are different to those sold in the supermarket or corner store.

The Choice consumer group reviews meat pies from time to time and in its 2010 test made this devastating comment:
“Very few meat pies are tasty or packed with meat, while the majority are a very unappetising prospect.”
This then begs the question ‘What exactly is in a meat pie?’ Australian standards (FSANZ) demand the pie contain at least 25% meat flesh (as a percentage of the whole pie), but according to Choice, who tested twenty meat pies, the meat content varied from 22.7% to 38.5%.

The meats allowed by FSANZ in a meat pie are beef, buffalo, camel, cattle, deer, goat, hare, pig, poultry, rabbit, sheep and kangaroo meat. FSANZ's definition of meat includes snouts, ears, tongue roots, tendons and blood vessels. Only offal (such as brain, heart, kidney, liver, tongue, tripe) must be specified on the label. Wild animals ("slaughtered ... in the wild state") may not be used.

If we assume 30% meat produces an acceptable meat pie, then 70% of the pie is made up from the following:
binder for the ground beef, gravy, fats, salt, herbs, spices, the usual manufacturing chemicals, and last but not least, the pie crust.
Most pies contain between 12 to 14 gm fat per 100 gm which is moderately high, but this is what gives the pie its flavour. No pies contain TVP (textured vegetable protein) unless it is expressly stated on the cover.

I think we should be pragmatic about the pie crust and accept that it has to be made to cope with being held in one hand and munched without disintegrating and hot gravy running down your arm. I am not aware of anybody catching cancer or any other chronic disease that can be attributed to eating meat pies on a regular basis, so don’t let the pie crust ingredients bother you. Drinking beer and smoking yes.

Whereas the objective tests will tell us what foods we need to ease up on when our annual blood test is analysed, the ultimate test is the subjective taste test. The passion with which people love or hate pie brands is quite startling, and so I suggest you never argue with a man, or woman, with a pie in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other hand.

My trouble and strife has tested a few brands and has settled for Four’N Twenty Classic pies as they suit the family’s taste and are not too expensive. Choice also chose Four’N Twenty as one of the best in its taste test. I notice that Four’N Twenty is trying to sell pies in the USA too, good luck to them.

Official Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition

For 23 years the Official Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition has served to promote and celebrate Australia’s much-loved icon; the perfect meat pie. The annual Competition, which is held at Fine Food Australia, is open to all pie making professionals and attracts thousands of entries from bakers across Australia. As the original and nationally recognised pie competition in Australia, the Competition is highly regarded by the baking industry and represents the pinnacle of pie making excellence. Winning a medal at the Competition is the ultimate goal of many pie making professionals and, as a result the standard of entries are high, with the awards being hotly contested.


  1. Classic British Pies are one of the things which once you visit UK for the first-time you definitely must try. The shop's History is evident the moment you walk-in the door. Straightforward design and the extended compartments enable you to experience what it was like ages before. You should definitely examine Arments Pie and Mash if you should be looking for the top pie and mash shop in London. ! Here you will find more information -

  2. cornish pasties haven't been mentioned???