Sausages have been traditionally made by stuffing raw ground meat and seasoning emulsion into animal intestines, most notably from pigs; however, depending on the country, intestines from sheep, goats and cattle may be used. Today, many manufacturers rely on collagen casings.  

Collagen is the basis of the connective tissue found in all mammals. In humans, it is the most abundant protein in the body and provides the infrastructure of the musculoskeletal system, which is essential for mobility. 

Casings made from collagen typically come from a layer of beef hide. The collagen is removed and refined and formed into a tubular casing for filling of meat intended to be sausage as well as snack sticks.  

Bill McGowan
Bill McGowan, commercial director for the Americas, Devro
“We use very sophisticated technology to turn collagen into strong, flexible, edible food casings,” said Bill McGowan, commercial director for the Americas, Devro, Columbia, South Carolina. “Collagen offers many benefits over intestine casings. For starters, collagen casings are stable and consistent, in other words they look and behave the same every time. This means customers can calibrate their processes very precisely and produce more sausages quicker, without waste. 

“As a manufactured product, the supply of collagen is constant and it’s not subject to the price fluctuations of commodities, such as intestines,” McGowan said. “Because it’s physically uniform it’s easier to store. For the same reason, collagen-encased sausages are easier and cheaper to package, and that has helped us build our reputation as the global leader of edible collagen products and services.”

Source: Devro
Collagen casings provide consistent tenderness and a crisp bite that consumers expect in a sausage or meat stick.

“Collagen is extremely versatile,” McGowan said. “There’s virtually no sausage it can’t accommodate. Our customers use collagen casings for fresh, processed, smoked and dried sausages in a huge variety of length and diameter.”