SPAM & Canned Meats
First introduced in 1937, SPAM is canned, precooked meat made by Hormel Foods. While there have since been many duplicates released on the market, SPAM has sold over 7 billion cans! We find out whether SPAM can still hold its own against other popular brands on the market today.
SPAM, the original canned meat, is made from cooked ground pork shoulder and ham (pork rear).
No refrigeration is needed, which makes spam convenient for camping, hiking, etc. and it’s ideal to keep on hand to enjoy anytime or for an emergency stash (although it does have a “best before” date.)
Those who enjoy SPAM eat it countless ways, including grilled, fried, baked, and even straight out of the can. Lots of recipe ideas at SPAM.com!
Luncheon meats are typically cured and cooked through treatment with common salt and sodium nitrate, and heat treatment.
Mechanically deboned meat means the meat has gone through a machine that separates the tissue from bone. It is then bound together in luncheon meat products using non-meat additives, meat emulsions, and extracted myofibrillar proteins. These additives make the meat soft and pliable, and then it is shaped into a preferred sellable form.
In the curing process, sodium nitrite helps prevent growth of harmful bacteria, and it is used with sodium nitrate as a colour fixative to make meat look pink. Nitrite, though necessary, creates a potentially harmful, carcinogenic chemical if heated at a high temperature.
Meats that have been cured without nitrites/nitrates are available, but you may have to ask for it at a specialty butcher shop. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t have that “healthy pink” colour. That’s actually artificial due to the nitrites/nitrates!
Nutritionally, canned meats can be high in sodium, fat, and calories, however they are also high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
- When buying canned meats, choose low fat and low sodium options whenever possible. Also, avoid any rusty or dented cans.
Note: The Canadian Cancer Society warns against consuming processed meats, which are linked to colorectal cancer.
“Best Before” dates or “durable life” dates measures the food quality only, not the food safety. It’s safer to buy and use canned goods at least 3 months before their expiration date, if they have one.
A recipe on an Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag episode called for SPAM, but we wanted to know how it stood up to the rest of the canned luncheon meats on the market, so we took a selection of canned meat hors d’oeuvres to a local hangout and asked 100 people to help us with a taste test. The brands we tested were:
Safeway Luncheon Meat: $2.83/340g
Swift Prem Pork Luncheon Meat (Maple Leaf): $4.59/340g
Klik Ready to Eat Luncheon Meat (Maple Leaf): $4.69/340g
Our 100 testers didn’t hold back the colourful descriptions!
- SPAM: “tastes more like meat to me, might be the best”
- Prem: “smells like dog food”
- Safeway: “mushy, salty”
- Klik: “worst after taste”
OUR TOP PICK
After 100 testers tried our 4 luncheon meats, SPAM took down the competition “whole hog”. SPAM Sliders go on the menu!
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Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag ep. 68 courtesy of: