From salt to cholesterol, from alleged belatedness to food intolerance, from spots to the over working of the digestive system. The list could be endless, but as a matter of fact some of the reasons why people tend not to overindulge in charcuterie products are often little more than popular wisdom.
There are many false prejudices concerning charcuterie, and therefore some explanations are needed to avoid generalisations and the perpetuation of unfounded opinions.
Charcuterie products contain an excessive amount of salt. FALSE. In the past, salt was considered a precious ingredient, now it is widely attacked because of its adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. The consumption of charcuterie, however, does not negatively affect the daily recommended amount of salt, since today’s products contain a very low amount of salt – often even lower than food such as pasta and bread- making them also suitable for those suffering from hypertension.
Charcuterie products are difficult to digest. FALSE. Charcuterie products made with lean meat, cured for a long time, whose fermentation carries out a real pre-digestion process, are very digestible and also suitable for those who suffer from a digestive disorder.
Charcuterie products are produced in the same way as in the past. TRUE. Today’s charcuterie industry uses “gentle” techniques, such as natural fermentation and cold techniques to limit the amount of salt, that guarantee genuine products with the flavours of the past.
The amount of additives used in charcuterie products is harmful. FALSE. It should be said that not all charcuterie products contain additives; in any case, their use is sometimes necessary to ensure the microbiological safety of those products most at risk of contamination. Their use is controlled by restrictive legislation, which only allows the use of certain additives – such as nitrites and nitrates – and in such modest doses that they are completely safe.
Charcuterie products cause allergies and intolerances. FALSE. Charcuterie products do not favour the onset of food allergies any more than other food, probably also thanks to the production processes, such as fermentation and cooking, which inactivate many allergens. Furthermore, charcuterie products must now specify the presence of any sources of gluten, milk or any other ingredients that may cause allergies.
Charcuterie products are suitable for diabetics. TRUE. Food, such as salami, which use sugar for the fermentation process, can be suitable for diabetics, since the sugar that ferments during curing is no longer present when the product has aged and is ready to be sold.
The consumption of charcuterie products favours the appearance of spots or the onset of headaches. FALSE. According to ancient medicine, food was classified according to different categories: hot, cold, wet, dry, and so on. Charcuterie products, derived from red meat, were considered as hot (or “heating”) food, or potentially inflammatory, favouring the onset of headaches or the appearance of spots or skin irritations. Today, these theories belong to medical folklore and to the past.
Charcuterie products can be eaten on a regular basis. TRUE. Today’s charcuterie products are in line with modern nutrition recommendations as they provide noble proteins, which are important sources of zinc and iron; they are also very digestible thanks to new breeding methods that have led to a significant reduction in fat.