A Derbyshire butcher is launching two new low fat sausages in the New Year after taking part in a project to help East Midlands food and drink manufacturers create healthier products.

J W Mettrick & Sons Ltd turned to the Healthier Food, Healthier Business project being spearheaded by The Food & Drink Forum when dieting customers began asking for low fat versions of its bangers.

Aware of the need to comply with strict labelling legislation before products can be labelled ‘low fat’, the butcher sought free help and advice from The Food & Drink Forum’s technical manager Richard Wigley.

He was able to advise on the claims that can be made on the labels of the newly created low fat pork and low fat turkey sausages, and liaise with Trading Standards experts over the precise nutritional composition of the products, which confirmed they could be described as low fat.

A product can only be labelled as low in fat when it contains no more than 3g of fat per 100g of product, explains Richard. The new sausages created by J W Mettrick & Sons Ltd have just 0.4g of fat per 100g in the pork product, and the turkey sausage a fat content of just 0.6g per 100g of product.

Now the new products are set for a launch in the New Year, and director John Mettrick has high hopes they will be a hit with customers who are cutting down on their fat intake.

“I think this fits in with what people are looking for,” explains John Mettrick, director at J W Mettrick & Sons Ltd, which has shops in Hadfield and Glossop, runs an abattoir in Glossop, North Derbyshire, and trades online at www.mettricksbutchers.co.uk. “We had quite a few customers who were in slimming groups who were asking if we could develop products that would fit in with their diets.

“We are looking to flag up the fact that a product that’s normally regarded by many people as an unhealthy product, can be a healthy product if it’s made correctly. Richard’s input has been crucial. For a little business like us, it would have been a struggle to afford the technical expertise that we’ve had, and without the help we would have muddled along. The Healthier Food, Healthier Business project, with its free support for East Midlands businesses, has been perfect for us.”

The Food & Drink Forum is spearheading the Healthier Food, Healthier Business project on behalf of the Department of Health and Food Standards Agency (FSA) to help small and medium size firms within the East Midlands region cut the saturated fat levels in their products to make them healthier, develop healthier products, reduce portion size or use the front of pack labelling scheme and ultimately make them more appealing to customers.

The project is also helping companies develop lower fat options, at a time when the importance of diet and healthy eating is increasingly being highlighted.

The Forum is emphasizing the value of healthier options by pointing out that they are worth an estimated more than £7 billion in the UK each year. The healthier food options sector is growing faster than sales in the food sector as a whole, according to market research experts Mintel.

The Food & Drink Forum has teamed up with Trading Standards labelling experts, and nutrition, diet and flavour experts from The University of Nottingham to help manufacturers in the region discover ways of making their products lower in saturated fat, but without compromising on flavour.

The project, which runs until the end of March, is currently helping a number of East Midlands food manufacturers to develop lower fat products.

“I have been very pleased to work with J W Mettrick & Sons Ltd under the Healthier Food, Healthier Business project to support them in the creation of two new low fat sausages, and hope they go down well with the firm’s customers,” says Richard Wigley.

For more information about the free support that’s available in the East Midlands under the Healthier Food, Healthier Business project, which runs until the end of March 2010, contact The Food & Drink Forum on 0115 9758810.