Could offal find new life as a health food?

Organuary looks to educate consumers on the benefits of organ meat, both nutritional and in terms of reducing food waste.

14 January 2020
food wastemeatNPDnutritionsupermarkets

Research from the National Food Survey in 2018 revealed that offal consumption in the UK has fallen a massive 90% in 40 years. While the meat was once a staple food in our diets, its presence on shelves has steadily eroded in favour of more ‘premium’ muscle cuts.

Organuary, an initiative set up this year by the Public Health Collaboration, is championing a month of incorporating offal into diets, with founder Sam Feltham saying that the price, health benefits and environmental impact make it altogether relevant in today’s climate.

“Offal is nutritious and cheap and, right now, a lot of it is going to waste,” he tells Food Spark.

“Organuary is a campaign to highlight that there is still a lot of wasted animal meats and that muscle meat isn’t the only part of the animal that we can be eating.”

Organ meats are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, according to the Organuary manifesto, with heart (which is rich in CoQ10, an antioxidant 10 times more potent than vitamin E) and liver (100g of beef liver can give you almost a week’s worth of preformed vitamin A) just two of the options Feltham hopes will become more accessible and attractive in supermarkets. 

Eating more organ meat could also lead to an overall decrease in carbon emissions from livestock as increased offal consumption would mean fewer animals would need to be reared overall. Carbon sequestration (the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil) through regenerative livestock farming is another plus for the movement. 

Independent restaurants are often advocates of offal, with nose-to-tail butchery (using as much of the animal as possible to reduce food waste) expected to become increasingly mainstream as a trend in foodservice.

With consumers drawn to health and nutrition – and with food waste also high on the retail agenda – offal seemingly ticks all the right boxes.

But what would be a good starting point for supermarket NPD teams?

Sprinkling in benefits

“Today’s more educated and curious consumer is certainly helping our cause. For the most part, the response we’ve got from the public has been very positive,” says Feltham.

“Social media can provide encouragement by showing that offal can be prepared in certain ways to make it more appealing to some who are perhaps hesitant, particularly children. Sprinkling in livers and kidneys into mince is a good way to go. The same goes for meatballs where you can sprinkle it in, which masks the look and texture, and they get the nutritional benefits.”

Feltham hopes that increased consumer interest with offal, stemming from health and environmental benefits, will see supermarkets react and make it more accessible.

“One of the easiest options for people wanting to start to include offal in their diets would probably be heart, as it’s a muscle,” continues Feltham.

“It’s not traditional muscle meat but it can be sliced to make it look like a steak, for example, or diced and so you can put it straight into a stew.

“At the moment, kidney comes as a kidney, liver as a liver, etc. If offal came ready to be used, and that way more accessible, it might become much more appealing.”

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