An educated customer is the best customer. The following information and links will, I hope, provide you with transparency and knowledge of the process that governs Sausage Barons, LLC and to a large extent, the industry as a whole.
USDA - everyone knows this agency exists but do you know what they do? Food Safety is just one of their "mission areas", and obviously the one that sausage making falls under.
FSIS - This is the Food Safety Inspection Service, the agency of the USDA that I've had to closely work with to get my labels approved. That's right, each product label (for us that's every different sausage flavor) has to be submitted along with exact recipe/formula to the FSIS for approval. These are the folks responsible for ensuring that what's on the label is in fact what's in the package that you buy.
FDA - You are, no doubt, familiar with this acronym too. Whereas the USDA covers meat, poultry & eggs, the FDA covers just about everything else edible (such as spices.)
Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book - Have at it folks! 202 sleep-inducing pages
A Guide To Federal Food Labeling Requirements For Meat, Poultry, And Egg Products - And if you still have insomnia, read this (its only 117 pages.)
CFR - the Code of Federal Regulations (specifically 9 CFR 319.140 - SAUSAGE) - Because I know you just can't get enough of this stuff. As you diligently read (and re-read) the prior documents you will often come across citations like this: "[9 C.F.R. § 317.8(b)(1) (meat)", hence the need for this link.
*I've read the Policy Book, Requirements Guide, and numerous CFR pages many, many times. It can seem confusing but once familiar with it, one comes to understand its purpose. It is actually meant to clarify and I feel better about our entire food system having scoured these documents.
Spices - this is a link to the FDA�s page on Definitions of spices.
*I thought this was important to add so that people understand there is nothing nefarious in the use of "spices" in the ingredient list. When I, or any other maker, use "spices" in my ingredient list it's simply a way to try to protect my recipe. Recipes are not patentable, which is why some big ones (think Coke) are held in such secrecy. But I encourage you to check out the FDA's list of things that can be called a "spice". It's all pretty typical stuff. It is not code for hidden MSG, or some unwanted chemicals; it really is just dried herbs and spices.
Vande Rose Farms - this links to Vande Rose Farms site. We use only their premium Duroc pork. We use the "picnic" (i.e. the shoulder) of the animal. This is the traditional cut used for either slowww cooking (like braising, or low & slow smoking/BBQ'ing), or sausage making. It/s a tough but fatty cut which lends itself perfectly to the tenderizing effects of a grinder and the somewhat higher fat content needed to make flavorful sausage.
No link here. Just a simple explanation: cut the meat, grind the meat, mix with spices/herbs/beer/spirits, stuff into casings, package & freeze. All of this is done in a regulated, USDA inspected facility - and by law it has to be. There are NO preservatives in our sausage, which is why it gets frozen right after it is made. Thankfully, freezing in vac-packs has no negative effect on taste & texture.