Woodys Factory – Press Release Dec 2012

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

WOOD_3564 baconinpan

Woody’s Brands (Pty)Ltd announced that the construction of their new bacon factory at 7 Assegaai Rd, Kraaifontein is projected to be completed early in Q1, 2013.

Equipment was supplied by Dantech Engineering from the UK.    Process development has been done in conjunction with several international partners and output is expected to reach 20 tons per week by the middle of 2013.

There will be a heavy reliance on the local pork industry which is expected to boost the pork industry in the Western Cape and in South Africa at large.

Processing standards will be some of the most stringent in the industry and it is expected that the site will set new standards in terms of food hygiene.

Several innovations will form part of an exciting new product offering which will be part of the new launch. Details will be made available in the course of 2013.

Trade inquiries can be directed at sales@woodysbrands.co.za

The Woody’s Team

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the truth

Categories: Uncategorized

towards total quality

April 23, 2012 2 comments

In January 2011 Oscar and Eben was on a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town.  During this flight they decided to embark on a quest to achieve total quality in Woodys.

The only thing they knew was that in order to achieve this, they have to start at the beginning and re work everything.

The Woodys team started on pork farms to better understand how pigs are produced.  We traveled throughout South Africa and the world, forging local and international partnerships.  All the while, learning!

The journey since then took over 17 months and we are only now entering the final stretch.

Through the worst storms the UK has seen in years :


Conducting regular industrial size trials to test our products:


Striving towards superior taste:



Investigating the latest processing technology:


Bringing together and international team working on the re-design the Woodys products and processes:


Ensuring we are having fun as we go!  Smile


Regularly testing the equipment we are looking at and the products we are designing:


Always testing for superior taste:


Until a clear picture started to emerge of what our future will look like:


We are not there yet, but we are close!

We want to thank our loyal clients for your support of the brand and the many emails of encouragement throughout this process.  The Woody’s team is more committed than ever to deliver on its promise of TOTAL QUALITY!

Thanks to the Woodys Team for everybody’s input and hard work!   For being part of the dream!  Woody’s will go from where we are now . . . to GREAT!

“Opportunity is missed by most people because its dressed in overalls and looks like work”

We don’t miss it!  We embrace it!


A message brought by Oscar Klynveld and Eben van Tonder to Woodys clients and Team Woodys, in SA and abroad.

Categories: Uncategorized


February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Oscar and Trudie,


Winnie the Pooh once said that “Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.”

This week, on 15 February 2012 something extraordinary happened – worthy of poetry!

I am thinking of a poem by a Scotsman who reminds me of you guys in many ways and who wrote about what happened to you guys on Wednesday.

The man is George MacDonald, born on 10 December 1824.

George’s universe was one where God would never turn his back on anyone.  No matter what.  It is said that when, as a child, the Calvinist concept of predestination was explained to him that he burst into tears.

George became a pastor, but following disputes with his congregation, he changed career from the ministry to literature.

His life was one of beauty and fairy tales.  He wrote amazing stories and influenced some of the greatest authors of our time.   W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Elizabeth Yates and even Mark Twain.

One of his poems is “Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear?”  Its the poem who finds you and Trudie tonight . . .  and baby Tihane’.

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.

Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than anyone knows.

Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into hooks and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs’ wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.


Another apt quote from Winnie the Pooh for tonight:   “Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.”

Tihane’ begins life.  She could not have asked for better parents to show her what she must be looking for before she begins looking for it!

From Eben, the Woody’s Team and all your other friends!

**  Oscar and Trudie are good friends and Oscar is the Managing Director of Woodys Brands.

Michael’s Cafe & Deli inspires!

January 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Michaels Logo

Michael’s Café & Deli
88 Campground Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town.
Map:  http://g.co/maps/avrt9

The story of the transformation of Michael’s Deli in Rondebosch is tied up with the Woody’s story.

Woodys Head Office is in Potchefstroom, but Eben stay in Rondebosch, Cape Town.  When Michael opened the deli a few years ago it became the logical place for Woodys meetings in Cape Town

The Big Daddy Breakfast has since then became the regular Woody’s breakfast as Will, Chris, Eben have their weekly management meetings there and many sales people had breakfast with Woodys at Michael’s over the years.

Michaels Big Daddy

Even our overseas suppliers never leave Cape Town without a sumptuous meal at Michael’s.

Michaels Steak

At the end of 2011, Michael himself had enough and decided that a farm life in Franshoek is more suited for his soul.  He sold the Deli to an energetic new restaurateur, Claudia.

Claudia is originally from Brazil, but has lived in many cities around the world,  finally settling in Cape Town.

As a Brazilian, she has a feel for good food and loads of creativity in her blood.

So it happened that Claudia, her fiancé Andre and a committed team of experts started to transform Michaels into their unique vision of good food.

What makes this such a stunning story is that neither Claudia, nor Andre owned a restaurant before.  Andre comes from the building industry!

Despite this, common sense, enthusiasm, a natural “feel for good food” and surrounding themselves with industry professionals who share their vision of excellence is more than making up for the lack of restaurant experience!

When Eben returned from hiking up Table Mountain this morning, he spoiled Tristan, his 14 year old son and Lauren, his almost 12 year old daughter for a late brunch of calamari and burgers at Michael’s.

All three agree that its the best calamari they EVER had!

Last Friday, Tristan and Eben decided to try a pizza from Michael’s new pizza oven.

They arrived, finding Claudia keeping a watchful eye over the business from the vantage point of one of the many new tables.

It was a warm and pleasant Cape Town evening.


Andre soon emerged from the kitchen and joined Claudia for a picture.


Tristan was chatting up the girl operating the till.



The inimitable Felo Monokoane, the “night manager” almost instantly appeared to see who was keeping his staff out of their work.


Soon it was off to business and Tristan sampled the new pizza!  The speed with which me gobbled it down should speak for itself!



The story of the underdog, entering an exciting new industry is the story of Woody’s.

Claudia and Andre’s passion, their commitment to excellence and creating something truly world class resonates with us.

Like us, they dont start out with a perfect concept.  They listen to their clients and respond.  Day after day they improve – striving to give customers what they want.

Countless meetings, constant improvement, boldly developing the concept, a punishing work schedule and a “we can do better” attitude – the same blood flows through the veins of every person on the Woodys team.  Individuals who dare to dream and then set out to achieve something spectacular.

From Woodys Brands to Claudia, Andre and the rest of the Michael’s staff:

“Congratulations on the new business.  Accepting the challenge.  The attitude that you can create something spectacular – something awesome!  Congratulations on the many improvements over December.  It is an honour knowing you guys and seeing the metamorphosis day after day!  Woody’s Brands is inspired by Michael’s Deli!”

Read this article on our Fecbook Fan page: http://www.woodysbacon.co.za

Categories: Uncategorized


Woodys is bacon.  Among other.  Later it will become other food products.  We are working on transforming it into the best bacon on the planet, available at all times!

While we develop our product, we want to also develop our values.

Woodys is about people.

Oscar and Trudie’s 3rd child

Oscar and Trudie

Trudie and Oscar, our Managing Director, are expecting their third child to be born early this year, making 2012 a very special year for them and for all of us, reminding us that family is always our number one priority and why we are all doing this.  We want amazing lives with awesome family.

Finding Celeste

kelli dudley

20 years ago a girl from the US, Kelli Dudley (in the pic above) had a penpal in Cape Town, Celeste Johnson.  Celeste had a major influence on Kelli’s life who went on to study anthropology and law.

Kelli asked Eben to help her finding Celeste.  Finding Celeste and re-acquainting her and Celeste is a great project to start the new year, reminding us how important friendships is and the people who help shape our lives.

(Kelli is a vegetarian – maybe a hint that we will not forever do meat products exclusively)

Will’s health drive

will klynveld

We want to live healthy lives.  Mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Our sales manager, Will Klynveld took ownership of a drive where we eat healthy food and work out, taking ownership of our health.

Surrounding ourselves with great friends

quality food - sophia

Eben is majorly being challenged by a close friend of his, Sophia.  Boo Prince is becoming a very good friend of Eben, Oscar and Will, challenging us, along with Sophia and the friends of Oscar, Will and Chris to responsible farming practices, world class processing standards and a no-compromise commitment to supreme quality.

We are embarking on an exciting project with our friend, Bryan Traylor to expand these relationships to include all Woody’s consumer.  Every person who writes us a letter, email or calls us with suggestions and criticism are being taken very seriously.  A press release is being prepared that will show just how serious we take these feedbacks.

Chris is focussing on making the best bacon on earth from 2012


Chris (on the right in the pic above, taken at a factory in Denmark) is completing the design of his state-of-the-art bacon factory that would be completed towards the last quarter of 2012.  He will in the future handle all Woodys bacon production.  Even the products produced by 3rd parties.

Besides these we are building friendships with associates and suppliers – both locally and from around the world.  2012 will be the year where we start delivering.

We will make the best bacon on earth and we will have the time of our lives!

It will be AWSOME!

Here is a bit of 2011



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Pro present development

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pro present yield

Team Woodys 3


Categories: Uncategorized

Seafood Paella ala Sophia

Woody’s Brands is changing.  This week-end I reflected on the past year and could not believe how it has flown past.

“Has it been a year since Oscar and I flew to Cape Town and during the flight realised that we can either stay a small, marginal regional supplier who forever have to apologise for poor quality and short deliveries or make serious choices and take the company to dramatic new heights so that we can blow everybody away in terms of our quality, price, volume and innovation?”

We have made the choice to become dramatically BETTER!

We have a new partner.  They share our vision to become the largest and best bacon producer in South Africa.

We have a new Woodys Executive Team who will be the cornerstone of the new-look company and will deliver on the objectives.

We will reveal our new partners, the new team and the new plan when the time is right.

The company is becoming dramatically BETTER!

A good friend of mine and the company sent me her suggestion of a dish that must be included in our Woodys Extreme Recipe feature.

It is a celebration of quality.

The lesson in creating this dish:  quality takes time, love and effort.

Paella is regarded by many as the national dish of Spain, but the Spanish consider it to be a regional Valencian dish.  In Valencia, every mother has her own way of making Paella and in South Africa we would like Paella to be made with Woodys bacon.  Ala Sophia style!

We would like to see every GREAT dish to be made with Woodys Bacon!


The Seafood Paella ala Sophia

Fresh Prawns
If you can of course, lobster tail
Fresh Clams
Fresh mussels in the shell
Fresh Chunky Fish (Red snapper or Yellowtail)
Chourico Sausage
(and of course, Woodys bacon!)

Saffron (this is the secret)
Fresh Organic Parsley
Fish Marinade (this is a special one)
Freshly chopped garlic
Red Pepper
Yellow Pepper
Half a bottle of white wine

About 65 kilograms of love and time and effort.

Woodys Strategy

Woody’s produces the best bacon on earth.

Two important strategy documents set out how we achieve this:


Quality bacon – from genetics to consumer

Woodys products – How we make it.

We spare NO expense to deliver on our promises!

Categories: woodys philosophy

The Smithfield example.

Lisas Keefe wrote on Smithfield’s results and provided valuable lessons for Woodys.  She wrote:

By Lisa M. Keefe on 6/16/2011

Smithfield Foods Inc. reported record financial results for its fiscal 2011, ended May 1, with net income of $521 million, or $3.12 per share, on sales of $12.2 billion.

For the fourth quarter, Smithfield earned $98.4 million, or 59 cents per share, on consolidated sales of $3.1 billion. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of record year-over-year earnings.

Much of the credit goes to the company’s pork segment, for which earnings improved 77 percent over fiscal 2010, the packaged meats segment and exports, CEO C. Larry Pope said in a conference call with analysts and the media to discuss the results.

“The fundamentals have been very good for most of this fiscal year, mostly related to the fresh pork complex, bolstered by the strong export environment as well as some changes relative to supply and demand” in the domestic market, Pope said.

Closing the company’s facility in Sioux City, Iowa, made a difference to the market in the United States “almost immediately,” Pope said.

Fat margins

“I’ve never seen margins at this level for this length of time” in the fresh pork business, he added.

In packaged meats, Smithfield has been successful in passing increased raw materials costs through to the consumer. The strength of the company’s consumer brands is clear, Pope said, in the double-digit increases in volume in its branded products; Smithfield plans to increase its spending on consumer marketing by 18 percent in fiscal 2012.

Even Smithfield’s hog production unit is profitable, despite an increase in corn prices.

“We have nice hedges and we expect hog production to remain profitable through the next fiscal year,” Pope said. He later indicated that Smithfield has hedges for about half of its corn needs at below-market prices and “protection for the whole year.” After the run-up in corn prices in 2008, and their subsequent fall, Smithfield found itself struggling with expensive contracts for much of its feed, which took a toll on the bottom line for more than a year.


Pope revisited his recent decision to end Smithfield’s bid for Spain’s Campofrio, of which Smithfield owns 37 percent. He emphasized that the decision was due to “turmoil” in western Europe, and not because Campofrio itself had significant operating problems. “We have a continuing interest in it, but the timing on the transaction wasn’t right and I won’t go back to it until I have better clarity on where the western European markets are going to go,” he said.


In addition to improved operating results, Smithfield reduced debt by repurchasing $391 million of 2013 and 2014 notes in fourth quarter. It also retired $913 million of total debt during fiscal year, improving liquidity and lowering interest expense.

Smithfield Foods on Thursday also announced a share repurchase program of up to $150 million of its common stock over the next 24 months. The company intends to buy the stock using cash on hand. The new authorization replaces a previous share repurchase program.

“We think the stock is significantly undervalued,” Pope said. “We could be on a share buyback program very quickly.”

Analysts’ response

After the call, JPMorgan equity analyst Ken Goldman increased his fiscal year 2012 earnings estimate to $2.38 per share from $1.97. He introduced a fiscal 2013 estimate of $1.47 earnings per share.

“The tone regarding FY12 was confident,” Goldman wrote of the conference call. “At one point … CFO Bo Manly said that with hard work and a little ‘luck,’ Smithfield’s fiscal 2012 performance could match or beat fiscal 2011. … We are raising our FY12 estimate to account for longer and better hedges than we previously believed. However, we introduce a FY13 estimate of $1.47 that incorporates much more expensive corn than what the company currently is buying.”

Deutsche Bank’s Christine McGlone also wrote a report on Smithfield’s results, but was not moved to change her earnings projections for fiscal 2012 from $2.73 per share.

The lessons for Woody’s are clear:

*  Despite the opinion of smaller market players, Smithfield is a shining example that it is possible to show a profit in a rising market.

*  The emphasis to grow the Woodys brand aggressively has been the right one.  Woodys must continue to pursue building the brand while it forges strong relationships with its suppliers.  Brand building must remain a top priority.

*  Hedging mielie prices will be key in pork price stability as Smithfields ability to hedge corn  prices has been key in their profitability.  We have to be able to pass the price stability on to our processing partners.

*  The proposed trade-off in the “Woodys brand” vs interest free loans that the Woodys CEO advocates will be very important.  A reduction of debt levels must remain a priority and all instruments at our disposal must be considered to achieve this.  High debt levels eats into company profitability.

2011 started with Woodys re-structuring its processing.  German Butchery continues to increase its volumes and quality and the Western Cape and Potchefstroom strategy is about to take on an entirely new dimension with the most significant steps to date in order to raise the Woodys processing output to the required levels.

The partnership with Profert gives it access to market instruments that few other pork traders and processors have and will soon deliver tangible benefits to Woodys and its processing partners.

The drive of the last few months of considering the pork industry from genetics’s to the consumer is starting to bear fruit on a structural and a quality level.

It takes heart from Smithfields example that it is setting the same fundamentals in place that create value for the Smithfield shareholders and the US consumers and that it will soon deliver the same results for the Woodys shareholders and the South African consumers.

The MSG debate

June 10, 2011 5 comments

This morning we had a meeting with Cherie Thomson from Maccallum and Associates SA (Pty) Ltd

We discussed the technical issues at hand and in the discussion the MSG controversy came up.

Later today I had to deal with the new Woodys labeling and since our products contains MSG and I have never really had a long hard look at the issue, it seemed like a good time to do so.

I started with the web site on MSG that Cherie mailed me.


The site seemed very one sided.  I could not understand why this is such an issue if the facts are so overwhelmingly positive about MSG?

I continued to read article after article on the subject.

Soon a clear and surprising pattern emerged.

Despite overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and benefits of MSG to the overall taste experience and multiple health benefits, food professionals remain reluctant to defend MSG, clearly in an attempt to cater to the paranoia surrounding MSG and fear of offending miss-informed consumers.

Take this article by Seabrook Crisps as an example.   The author states:

Every government across the world with a food licensing and testing system states that, ‘at normal levels in the diet’, MSG is recognised as safe. Some go as far as to say that improving the taste of foods means improving nutritional intake. That is to say that it is taste buds that actually trigger important digestive and metabolic functions, allowing people to better use the essential nutrients received from their diet. The case against MSG remains unproven. .

Then, in one dazzling transition statement, the author himself jumps from fact to fiction in a blatant catering to mass miss-information.  He states:

Common sense dictates that chemically manufactured additives are best avoided.

He uses this as his transition statement to launch into a few sweeping paragraphs implying among other a link between obesity and MSG and ends up in a statement that Seabrooks products will in the future all be MSG free.

If the answer to obesity is to ban everything that makes food taste good – then lets ban sugar,   pepper and all spices.

If people dont like food – THAT should help the fight against obesity!

If the issue is synthesizing chemicals that naturally occur in nature, then lets do away with aspirin also!

I came across this well researched and very objective paper, written by a Harvard Law student.

I include this for the benefit of those who, like me, believed that there is something behind the anti-MSG frenzy and who needs an objective discussion to show the true state of affairs.

In the study, it is stated that the only credible negative reaction to MSG were found in:

1) otherwise healthy individuals who, within one hour of exposure to a dosage of MSG greater than 3 grams in the absence of food, experience manifestations of the MSG Symptom Complex.

This eliminates all Woodys consumers because there will not be 3 grams of MSG even in 10KG of bacon and you can be assured that the MSG in our bacon will always be consumed WITH food – BACON!

The second category of people is:

2) individuals with severe and unstable asthma who may experience MSG Symptom Complex when given MSG in the absence of a meal containing protein and carbohydrate.

I have “unstable asthma” and these same symptoms are triggered for me when I drink milk, eat butter, or sometimes when I drink coke-cola!

Even the article below tries to be objective at the end by admitting to some negative effects of MSG, clearly in an attempt to sound objective and definitely not because the consensus of good science is on the side that the issue is still open for debate.

I realised that the site http://www.glutamate.org/ is one sided for two obvious reasons:

1.  it is maintained by the leading supplier of MSG, and

2.  because there is not a shred of proper scientific evidence behind the notion that MSG is any more harmful than pepper or milk.

Woodys bacon contains MSG.  Its natural.  Its good for us and it makes the bacon taste GREAT!

**  Below is the article by Monica Singh.


The MSG Controversy
Monica Singh
Class of 2005

Submitted March 2005

Harvard Law School

This paper is submitted in satisfaction of the course requirement for Food and Drug Law (Winter 2005)


Monosodium glutamate (“MSG”) has become one of the most well-known and controversial food ingredients in recent history. Linked to the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” the use of MSG has caused an outpouring of anecdotal evidence alleging adverse effects caused by ingestion of the food ingredient. These claims have been fueled by the popular press which has devoted considerable coverage to the debate surrounding the food additive. Yet, scientific studies have repeatedly indicated that MSG is safe at ordinary levels of consumption for the general population. In response to the controversy, in 1995, the Food and Drug Administration commissioned the FASEB Report to provide a comprehensive review of the monosodium glutamate scientific literature. This paper will examine the history of the MSG debate, including the scientific evidence, the role of the media, the positions of both sides and the response of the FDA.


Why doesn’t everyone in China have a headache?” Jeffrey Steingarten, a Harvard Law School graduate turned renowned food critic, poses this question in an essay investigating the controversy surrounding monosodium glutamate.1 While Steingarten’s question may come across as flippant, even insolent, to some, it does in effect encapsulate the long-drawn-out and enduring debate regarding the safety and potential health effects of monosodium glutamate, or MSG. A simple Internet search reflects the extraordinary degree to which the MSG question has taken hold in the United States, with numerous advocates and opponents on both sides.2 MSG is the quintessential “hot topic,” with those speaking out on the issue including not only everyday consumers, but scientists, physicians and government officials. From the “NO MSG” signs plastered all over Asian restaurants to the constantly-referenced and peculiarly-titled “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” the American public has been made exceptionally aware of this particular flavor enhancer that has been used extensively for almost a century. MSG has even been implicated in Presidential scandal.3 And yet despite its heightened exposure in the popular press, the scientific reality of MSG remains obscure to most laypeople. While it is likely that a survey of the general population would reflect a widely held belief that MSG is a “bad chemical,” it is much less likely that these same individuals would be aware that glutamate, the group of chemicals that includes MSG, is found in many of the foods they consume on a daily basis.

Has MSG been unfairly vilified in the United States by over-zealous researchers and influential media forces? Or is the concern justified – is MSG in fact a harmful food ingredient that needs to be taken more seriously by regulating agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”)? In the past half-decade, the FDA has been repeatedly subject to requests for additional studies and for stricter regulations regarding the use of monosodium glutamate in the food industry. Despite its strapped resources, FDA has managed to address some aspects of the MSG controversy, launching a comprehensive examination and follow-up report on the safety of MSG in 1995. This paper will examine the complicated history of MSG, including the role of the media and various well-known activists, the results of previous scientific studies and the response by the FDA, in an effort to determine what is reality and what is myth in the debate on MSG?

Glutamate: Its Role in Food and in the Body

Monosodium glutamate belongs to the larger group of chemicals that are labeled “glutamate.” Glutamate is one of many different amino acids, which are considered to be the building blocks of proteins. Glutamate itself is regarded as one of the most important components in proteins.4 In fact, it is found naturally in many protein-containing foods, including cheese, milk, meat, fish and a number of different vegetables.5 The levels of MSG are particularly high in foods like tomatoes, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese.6 Glutamate is a key component in determining the flavor of these foods, however it only functions as an enhancer when it is in its “free” form, not when it is bound with other amino acids in proteins.7


More specifically, MSG is the sodium salt of the amino acid, glutamic acid, and a form of glutamate.8 When MSG is added to a food, it serves as a flavor enhancer, similar to the flavoring function provided by glutamate which occurs naturally in some foods. MSG itself is simply comprised of water, sodium and glutamate.9 MSG has no texture or smell of its own, and therefore serves to emphasize the natural flavor of the food itself, rather than adding an independent flavor. The flavor-enhancing properties of MSG were first discovered in 1908 by Professor Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese chemist at Tokyo Imperial University, who had been working to isolate the ingredient that gave a particular taste in kombu (a Japanese seaweed).10 According to Ikeda, this taste was also “common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat but … not one of the four well-known tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.”11 Ikeda labeled this distinct taste “umami,” which best translates into the word “savory” for purposes of the English language.12 Using a kombu broth, Ikeda was able to extract crystals of glutamate. To make glutamate viable as a seasoning, Ikeda realized that it would need to be easily soluble in water, but not solidify or absorb humidity (like salt or sugar).13 He found that monosodium glutamate possessed these ideal “storage properties” and provided a potent umami taste.14 In fact, recent “taste” research has further defined this fifth taste and offered confirmed identification of glutamate receptors on the tongue.15

Today, MSG is generally derived from starch, corn sugar, molasses, sugar cane or sugar beets.16 MSG is produced through a natural fermentation process, like that which is used to produce yogurt and beer.17 MSG is currently found in thousands of different processed foods, including soups, salad dressings, mayonnaise, canned vegetables and frozen dishes. It is also sold alone as a white crystal substance, similar in texture and appearance to salt or sugar.18 On average, an individual in the United States consumes approximately 11 grams of glutamate each day from natural protein sources, and less than 1 gram of glutamate per day from MSG.19 According to one source, “this amount of added MSG is the same as adding 1 to 1.5 ounces of parmesan cheese.”20 Compare this to figures outside of the United States, like Taiwan, where daily MSG intake averages 3 grams per day.21 In addition, it is important to note that most researchers believe that once ingested, the human body treats glutamate that is added to foods via MSG the same as glutamate which is found naturally in foods, like tomatoes or cheese.22

However, glutamate is not used simply to enhance the flavor of foods; it has important biological functions within the body as well. As one researcher maintained, “few biological molecules have the importance to such a wide range of body functions as glutamate.”23 This is an important consideration given that the role of glutamate in the body has been implicated in the MSG controversy, with concerns that the flavor enhancer may negatively affect certain critical physiological processes, like the functioning of the nervous system. In terms of nutrition, glutamate is considered a non-essential amino acid, meaning that the body can produce glutamate on its own from various other protein sources.24 In fact, the body itself generates approximately 50 grams of free glutamate per day for use as a component of metabolization.25 In addition, approximately two kilograms of naturally occurring glutamate can be found in the body’s organs and tissues, including the brain, the kidneys, the liver and various muscles.26 The glutamate that is actually produced by the brain assists in the organ’s normal functions and also serves as a neurotransmitter.27 Dietary glutamate, derived naturally from foods and from MSG, plays an important role in the digestive system, serving as a primary source of energy for the intestine.28 In fact, one study has emphasized the demands of the intestine, indicating that of all the dietary glutamate consumed, approximately only four percent escapes into other parts of the body.29 Therefore glutamate provides important benefits to human health, well beyond its role as a food component. Some have argued that even as a food enhancer, glutamate can provide significant nutritional benefits by increasing food intake, particularly for the elderly for whom losses in taste and smell contribute to poor nutritional status.30 In addition, the use of MSG as a food ingredient may promote lower sodium intake, since it contains only one third the amount of sodium as table salt and has been shown to be produce the same “good taste” as its’ “high-sodium” counterpart when added to a low-sodium food product.31

History of MSG from a Public Health Perspective

Monosodium glutamate was originally designated as a Generally Recognized as Safe (“GRAS”) ingredient by the FDA in 1958, along with other commonly used food ingredients like salt and baking powder.32 Specifically, the relevant portion of the United States Code of Federal Regulations states, “It is impracticable to list all substances that are generally recognized as safe for their intended use. However, by way of illustration, the Commissioner regards such common food ingredients as salt, pepper, vinegar, baking powder and monosodium glutamate as safe for their intended use.”33 The safety of MSG has been repeatedly reaffirmed by a number of different sources within the scientific community, including the FDA,since that time. In 1987, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization placed MSG in the safest category of food ingredient.34 In addition, a report done in 1991 by the European Communities’ Scientific Committee for Foods confirmed this finding, classifying the “acceptable daily intake” of MSG as “not specified,” which is the most favorable categorization for a food ingredient.35 The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association also weighed in on the issue, stating that glutamate as not been shown to pose a “significant health hazard” in any form.36 And yet despite the seemingly general scientific consensus that MSG is safe, the food ingredient has nonetheless been subject to overwhelming controversy in the past several decades.

Moreover, the FDA’s position on MSG labeling has remained relatively static for sometime, and yet has become a key component in the larger MSG controversy. The FDA requires labeling of all ingredients in processed and packaged foods. Therefore, whenever MSG is added to a food product, it must be listed on the ingredient list under its common name, “monosodium glutamate.” However, when glutamate-containing ingredients, such as Parmesan cheese, soy sauce and hydrolyzed proteins, are included in a food, they are to be listed by their common name.37 The FDA, in 1993, proposed adding the phrase “contains glutamate” to certain protein hydrolysates that contain substantial amounts of glutamate, however this initiative was never finalized.

The MSG Controversy

For a food ingredient that has received so many safety approvals and for which there is virtually no confirmed, scientific evidence of deaths or serious illness, MSG has nevertheless created what can essentially be termed “mass hysteria” in the general population. MSG has been faulted for a whole host of medical conditions, from headaches to cardiac arrhythmia; it has even been blamed for murder.38 One of the most contested issues that arises in the MSG debate is the question of whether to base findings of MSG safety solely on double-blind scientific studies or to take into consideration the anecdotal evidence. A great deal of the outcry against MSG based on potential adverse health effects relies on these personal accounts of MSG intolerance. These types of reports, though not inherently invalid, do raise scientific concerns in that these episodes cannot be directly linked to the ingestion of MSG, and could in fact be attributed to a variety of other factors. Some of the most common allegations made against MSG are investigated below.

General Adverse Affects and Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

The name is peculiar. Medical conditions generally have names that the majority of the general population cannot even pronounce, let alone identify. And yet, Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (“CRS”), the condition linked to the adverse affects of MSG, is well-known by the layman. A medical dictionary blurb defines CRS as follows:

The syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that can occur after eating Chinese food. The symptoms can include headache, sweating, facial pressure or swelling, nausea, numbness or burning around the mouth, chest pains and heart palpitations. Typically, the symptoms are temporary and not life-threatening, said William Geimeirer, a Wilmington-based allergist. The food additive monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is commonly used as a food preservative, flavor enhancer or meat tenderizer, has been implicated but never proven to be the cause, according to the National Institutes of Health. The condition was first reported in 1968, the Institute said. Treatment depends on the symptoms. Most people recover on their own.39

The term “CRS” was first coined in 1968 by Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok to describe the above-noted collection of symptoms he experienced after eating Chinese food. Anecdotal reports of MSG inducing CRS have been repeatedly subject to scientific examination. The vast majority of these studies have been relatively unfavorable, or at best inconclusive, towards these anti-MSG claims. A study by two Italian scientists, P.L. Morselli and S. Garatini of the Institute of Pharmacologic Research in Milan, indicated that CRS may ultimately be a result of “autosuggestion.” In a double-blind crossover study,40 the two scientists examined 17 males and seven females, between the ages of 18 and 34. The two administered 3 gram doses of MSG via 150ml of beef broth and evaluated the participants every 20 minutes for a three hour period. There were two groups of subjects, one group that received broth with MSG and one group that received broth without MSG. An examination of the test results revealed that the group that had received the broth without MSG reported a number of CRS symptoms, including headache, flushing and tightness in the chest, whereas the group that received the actual MSG broth reported no such symptoms.41

Other researchers have reached similar conclusions with regard to the scientific link between MSG and CRS. Richard Kenney, MD, of George Washington University has done a number of different studies to examine whether there is in fact any scientifically credible evidence indicating a food intolerance to MSG. In one study, Kenney fed 60 subjects a variety of liquids, including orange juice, black coffee, flavored milk, spiced tomato juice and a two percent MSG solution. Kenney’s results indicated that six subjects reacted to coffee, six to spiced tomato juice and only two subjects responded to the MSG, indicating that “MSG was not unique in producing symptoms typical of CRS.”42 Kenney did a follow-up double-blind study using subjects who claimed that they suffered adverse reactions after ingesting foods with MSG. The test participants drank a “soft drink” solution for four days, on two of which the solution contained 6 grams of MSG. Once again, Kenney’s results proved unfavorable to the anti-MSG camp. Two of the six participants reacted to both of the solutions (with and without MSG), and the other subjects reacted to neither of the solutions.43 Indeed, there are number of other studies that have produced similar results, failing to produce the adverse reactions that many individuals associate with dietary intake of MSG.44 One researcher has attempted to explain the existence of these “CRS-like” symptoms even without exposure to MSG, attributing some of these postprandial adverse reactions to high histamine levels in some foods.45

Of course, these studies and their accompanying results are not without critics. One of the most outspoken opponents of MSG, Dr. Adrienne Samuels, has publicly disapproved of many of these studies on grounds that they have been industry-sponsored, “sloppy in … design and execution; focus[ing] on areas which were irrelevant to an understanding of the toxic effects of MSG; and … even … involved in clear-cut scientific fraud.”46 Specifically, Samuels suggests that some of the placebo studies were inappropriate since the placebos themselves contained glutamate resulting from manufacture.47 Samuels and her husband, Jack Samuels, who claims to suffer life-threatening symptoms following ingestion of MSG are by far the most vocal of the anti-MSG activists. Their claims seem to center primarily on the fact that these studies are funded by industry and that the FDA has been bought by these very same industry players. However, there is evidence of studies conducted independent of industry that have resulted in the same dubious conclusions regarding the claim that MSG causes CRS; moreover, there is indication that these anti-MSG activists may sometimes attribute industry ties to those who do not hold them.48

While the plurality of results repeatedly call into question MSG’s causative role in food hypersensitivity, the number of anecdotal reports continues to grow. As one group of scientists reflected, “… a vast array of materials are present in all foods, and the range of pharmacological and allergic effects that foods can elicit in individuals with idiosyncratic sensitivities makes causative agents difficult to pinpoint. Readily recognizable, but poorly understood, acronyms such as MSG and CRS may have served as scapegoats since they were coined in the late ‘60s.”49 This statement begs the question – to what degree are CRS and its associated symptoms simply a product of the human mind and the power of the popular press? Researchers studying this phenomenon of “pseudo-food allergy”50 found that almost 30 percent of adults in the United States believe that they suffer from a food allergy, when in actuality less than two percent of the adult population has a true sensitivity to certain foods or food additives.51 After conducting an MSG study, Dr. Daryl Altman, a medical consultant for Allerx Incorporated and the Food Allergy Center, commented that she found it disturbing that even after participants were shown that they had consumed large amounts of MSG without experiencing any sort of reaction, “that didn’t stop them from believing that MSG was a problem.”52 Dr. Altman summarized her findings by stating, “there’s a high prevalence of belief, and a low prevalence of reality.”53 These psychological factors are nonetheless having a major impact, as the purchase and consumption decisions of this group of people are being influenced by mistaken concern of food allergies, a phenomenon that one researcher has labeled “a national epidemic.”54

In the case of MSG, it seems that the popular news media may also contribute to the large numbers of unconfirmed reactions to foods and, more generally, to the misattribution of causation. The public confusion surrounding MSG has become increasingly aggravated by the overexposure of the food additive in the popular press. Arthur T. Schramm, in his capacity as Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences’ Industry Liason Committee, weighed in strongly on this issue, stating:

The communications media, particularly TV, have given considerable publicity to experimental data actually having little or no bearing on safety, but presented in such manner as to dispose a large majority of the lay public to draw dire conclusions. I am referring, of course, to TV reports on chick embryo studies involving cyclamates and subcutaneous injection studies involving sodium glutamate [MSG]. Both reports were inconclusive with respect to the safety of their use in food, but this type of psychological pressure has already taken its toll in the defensive action recently employed by the baby food manufacturers. The entire atmosphere growing out of such TV programming, coupled with politically oriented Congressional hearings and careless statements by apparently qualified publicity seeking individuals, is one of economic terrorism.55

Schramm’s reference to the actions of “baby food manufacturers” stems from their decision to remove MSG from baby food after charges that it was unnecessary, deceptive and potentially harmful to infant’s nervous systems. This move by manufacturers was done before any response by the FDA, who had the same information as the researchers and yet chose to take no action.56 And while generally it is alleged that industry is the one putting forth biased information for its own economic benefit, Schramm’s pointed words seem to indicate that in the case of food additives, MSG in particular, industry point of view has not received the same “press time” as that of the anti-MSG activists. This effect of the media on the economic choices of consumers may be due, in part, to a loss of confidence in the FDA and the food supply. Some have alleged that in the wake of the disclosure of the “filth guidelines,” the existence of PCBs in chickens and high levels of mercury in fish, some consumers have decided to take government assurance or inactions with a grain of salt.57 Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that the media has an extraordinary influence on the actions and beliefs of the average consumer. The FDA has also recognized the effect of the popular press, with one FDA official emphasizing the need for consumer education, but maintaining that currently “too much [of this education] is carried by the public media in sound bites.”58

Neurological Effects

Though Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is undoubtedly the most well-known of the alleged MSG effects, other more serious accusations have also been made with respect to a possible link between the food additive and neurological disorders. As mentioned previously, in addition to serving more generally in protein and energy metabolism, glutamate also plays a key role in the neurological system, acting as a nerve impulse transmitter to the brain. The malfunction of glutamate receptors in the brain has been associated with a variety of different neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s Chorea. Approximately, 2.3 grams of free glutamate is naturally found in the human brain.59 Glutamate is found to have high intracellular concentrations, and low extracellular concentrations. Certain conditions, like strokes, may damage the blood-brain barrier, which would in turn affect the level of glutamate concentration.60 Whether dietary intake of high doses of glutamate can also cause the same type of shift in glutamate concentration and therefore adversely affect brain function has been the subject of great debate.

Perhaps one of the most influential players in the MSG – neurological disorders debate has been John Olney, a psychiatrist at Washington University. Dr. Olney has been hyper-critical of a number of different food additives, but has focused a great deal of time on aspartame and MSG. With regards to the latter, Dr. Olney conducted numerous studies in which MSG was injected or force-fed to rodents to examine whether MSG could cause neurotoxicity among these animals. In one study, Olney used neonatal mice and varying doses of MSG, as large as 4 grams per kilogram of the animal’s body weight. The injections seemed to induce brain lesions.61 Olney has also reported that MSG can trigger obesity, neuroendocrine disturbances, behavioral disturbances, and fetal brain damage in mice whose mothers were fed MSG when pregnant.62 Studies by other researchers also claim that MSG fed to infant mice damaged nerve cells in the hypothalamus of the brain.63 More generally, Olney has attacked the FDA on grounds that it had succumbed to “an industry-arranged whitewash,” selectively choosing favorable studies to support in order to maintain MSG’s “GRAS” standing.64 In addition, Olney suggested that many of these FDA-backed studies employed researchers with intimate industry connections.

Though Olney, by making himself and his studies very public in the MSG arena, has been quite influential,65 he has also been subject to an enormous amount of very pointed and aggressive criticism. One critic ranked him as one of the top ten individuals who has “led to mass confusion and distrust of our food supply” by “misus[ing] scientific design of toxicological experiments to cause millions of mothers to worry about brain damage to their children from MSG.”66 More specifically, a review by the International Food Information Council Foundation criticized the methodology of Olney’s studies, stating,

… the dosages of MSG used in these studies were extremely high and the methods of injection, as well as force-feeding, do not accurately represent the way humans consume MSG … Olney’s results could not be duplicated when large amounts of MSG were added to the diet … studies evaluating the normal dietary ingestion of MSG in food, including amounts exceeding 40g/kg body weight (5,000 times higher than normal amount ingested), found no harmful effects on the brain.67

Follow-up studies similarly contradict Olney’s findings. A study in which large

amounts of glutamate were fed to both adult humans and adult gerbils found no sign of

any adverse reactions, in particular no neurological changes.68

Moreover, an increasing understanding of the role of glutamate in the brain has further called into question Olney’s previous findings. Research done by Dr. John Fernstrom, Professor of psychiatry, pharmacology and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has shown that the glutamate receptors found in the brain are different from those that have been discovered on the tongue.69 The brain generates its own glutamate through glucose and other amino acids, and has an intricate transport system to protect the brain cells. As Fernstrom states, “while it was earlier thought that circulating glutamate in the body might enter the brain and cause damage, it is now clearer than ever that circulating glutamate is kept strictly separate from the glutamate inside the brain that is used for normal neural function.”70 Other scientists have confirmed Fernstrom’s findings by showing that the levels of glutamate in the brain do not vary based on changes in the glutamate levels of the plasma.71 The research regarding the issue of MSG linkage to neurotoxicity thus overwhelmingly indicates that glutamate-containing food, even in extremely high concentrations, will not have a detrimental affect on the functioning of the brain as was previously speculated.

Pregnant/Lactating Women

In addition, Olney’s studies indicating that administration of MSG to pregnant mice would result in lesions of the fetal brain has also been discredited by subsequent research. A study in which large amounts of MSG were intravenously injected into the blood stream of pregnant monkeys reveals no increase in the fetal glutamate levels.72 Thus, while most amino acids are transferred across the placenta in order to ensure fetal development, researchers have found that the placenta is “virtually impermeable to glutamate, even at high levels.”73 This research has also extended to women who are breast-feeding, with research indicating that increased levels of MSG in the lactating woman did not increase the level of glutamate in the breast milk.74


Finally, some have alleged that the ingestion of MSG may cause another serious health consequence by triggering or aggravating asthma in certain individuals. Once again, the weight of scientific evidence tends to contradict this claim. Dr. Donald Stevenson of the Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, California, summarized the current research, stating “we now know from numerous well-designed clinical studies that MSG or glutamate cannot trigger or exacerbate asthma, even among individuals who believe their asthma is caused by MSG.”75 The National Institute of Health’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases conducted two studies in 1991 and 1993 to examine the possible link between MSG and asthma. In a single-blind oral study using 13 non-asthmatics and 30 asthmatics, a dose of 7.6 grams of MSG was administered over a period of two hours.76 None of the non-asthmatics reported any change in pulmonary reactions, and only one asthmatic subject reported an adverse effect. When this same asthmatic subject was tested using a double-blind placebo-controlled challenge, no effect was reported.77 Researchers have generally concluded that MSG does not affect asthma, and it is safe for asthmatics to ingest glutamate-containing foods.78

FDA Response

Given the limited understanding of the average consumers when it comes to chemistry, toxicity and nutrition, many individuals rely on regulatory agencies like the FDA or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make the critical decisions as to which food ingredients are safe for general consumption by the public and which are not. It is interesting to examine the response of the FDA to MSG in light of this reality and the overwhelmingly negative publicity surrounding this particular food additive. The FDA has been repeatedly criticized for not proactively addressing the MSG controversy, for not implementing more stringent regulations and more generally for siding with industry executives.79 Some have even paralleled FDA’s handling of the MSG issue to its management of silicone breast implants on the grounds that, as with implants, the FDA is exhibiting a preference for “erroneous and in some cases deliberately falsified or deceptive industry data.”80

However, the FDA has defended its handling of the MSG issue on the grounds that it has appropriately engaged in a process of reassessment and evaluation. Dr. Fred Shank, as the director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, commented on the MSG controversy, stating, “the public wants a quick fix: Ban it, remove it, or put a warning label on it.”81 Though FDA has not taken such definitive actions, it does require that when MSG is added to a food, it be included on the ingredient list using its full name, “monosodium glutamate.” Moreover, the FDA considers it misleading for a product to advertise “No MSG” if it includes other forms of free glutamate, given that the average consumer generally associates the term “MSG” with all free glutamate.82 In addition, the FDA has repeatedly commissioned studies to reaffirm the safety of MSG. The Select Committee on GRAS Substances (“SCOGS”) of the Life Sciences Research Office (“LSRO”) and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (“FASEB”) reviewed the health aspects of MSG in two independent studies in 1978 and 1980 as part of FDA’s update of GRAS safety assessments.83 The Committee concluded that MSG was generally safe at ordinary levels of consumption.84 The 1980 report did indicate that additional research was necessary to determine whether significantly higher levels of glutamate consumption would produce adverse effects.85 Taking into account the new studies and the development of additional information regarding the physiological effects of glutamic acid that has accumulated since the publication of the SCOGS reports, combined with the ongoing public concern surrounding this food ingredient, the FDA announced in 1992 that it was contracting with FASEB to review the available scientific data on MSG and to prepare a comprehensive evaluation of glutamate safety.86

FASEB Report

The FDA specified that this scientific review of MSG was to have five primary objectives: 1) to determine whether MSG can induce a complex set of symptoms known as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, or other serious adverse reactions, after oral ingestion of MSG at levels ranging up to or beyond 5 grams per meal; 2) to determine whether MSG as used in the American food supply (including as used in hydrolyzed protein products) has the potential to contribute to brain lesions in neonatal or adult nonhuman primates and whether there is any risk to humans from dietary MSG; 3) to determine whether hormones are released from the pituitary of nonhuman primates following ingestion of MSG and whether there exists any comparable risk to humans; 4) to define the metabolic basis that might underlie these types of adverse reactions; and 5) to compile a report on the findings of the review and evaluation.”87

The review was to be conducted in two separate phases – the first being an exhaustive review of the existing scientific literature and the second being a comprehensive evaluation of the safety of MSG using the Phase I results as the focus for the Phase II analysis. The FDA put forth 18 detailed questions regarding MSG that FASEB was to focus on in preparing its report.88 The questions generally dealt with the possible role of MSG in eliciting MSG symptom complex, the possible role of dietary glutamate in causing brain lesions in humans, any underlying conditions that may predispose an individual to adverse effects from MSG, whether levels of consumption or other factors may affect an individual’s response to MSG and the quality of previous scientific data and safety reviews.89 The FASEB Report deemed the symptoms associated with MSG as “MSG symptom complex,” a term the Expert Panel preferred over the more popularized CRS which the panel felt was “pejorative” and “not reflective of the extent or nature of the symptoms that have been associated with the myriad of potential exposure possibilities.”90

The FASEB final report is detailed and complex, over 350 pages long. The general consensus has been that the report reaffirms the safety of MSG for the general population at normally consumed levels, finding no evidence connecting MSG to any serious, long-term medical problems. Specifically, the report stated that though endogenous glutamate metabolism has been linked to certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Huntington’s Chorea, there is no evidence indicating that dietary or circulating MSG or glutamate contributes to changes in brain neurochemistry and therefore chronic consumption of MSG cannot be deemed to contribute to or exacerbate any of these glutamate-mediated neurodegenerative diseases.91 Moreover, while the Expert Panel indicated that some studies have documented the impact of parenterally administered MSG on the hypothalamus of nonhuman primates, the Panel maintained that no studies performed in the prior fifteen years had indicated the ability of orally ingested MSG to produce lesions or damage nerve cells in nonhuman primates.92

The report did, however, indicate possible short-term effects following MSG ingestion in two particular subgroups of the general population: 1) otherwise healthy individuals who, within one hour of exposure to a dosage of MSG greater than 3 grams in the absence of food, experience manifestations of the MSG Symptom Complex;93 and 2) individuals with severe and unstable asthma who may experience MSG Symptom Complex when given MSG in the absence of a meal containing protein and carbohydrate.94 With regard to this latter subgroup, the Expert Panel reviewed 11 available reports regarding the link between MSG and asthma, and found that all of the studies were flawed in some capacity or presented insufficient evidence with which to characterize the patient sample.95 With respect to this “asthma effect,” the FASEB report recommends additional research.96

The Expert Panel maintains that reports of adverse reactions to MSG in the scientific and medical literature are case reports as opposed to experimental studies, and the “majority of these reported symptoms are transient and not life-threatening.”97 The Expert panel did note two exceptions in the case studies that reported cardiac arrhythmia following ingestion of wonton soup. However, in response to these reports, the Panel notes that “the evidence linking these symptoms in these studies with MSG is presumptive, as neither the glutamate content of the individual food or foods consumed nor the blood glutamate levels or any other corroborative evidence was presented.”98 Moreover, even with these potential subgroups, the Expert Panel maintains that, with the exception of one study, there is no evidence in humans of response when an MSG challenge is given with a mixed meal.99

The Expert Panel declined FDA’s request to determine a reasonable classification scheme for the different types of adverse reactions to MSG, declaring that given the limited state of knowledge and the absence of valid epidemiological data, such a scheme would be premature. The Panel recommended “vigorous research and statistical corroboration” before a valid classification scheme could be designed. The Panel did indicate that adverse reactions were more likely to occur when MSG was ingested in capsule or liquid form on an empty stomach or without food. For purposes of determining an appropriate range of doses and methodology to administer during MSG testing, the Expert Panel recommended a double-blind, placebo-controlled test using .5 g and 3 g doses of MSG.100

In summary, given that adverse effects were only seen after ingesting 3 grams or more of MSG on an empty stomach, and that the typical serving of glutamate-treated food contains less than .5 grams of MSG, the FASEB Report essentially reaffirms the safety of MSG at normal consumption levels for the general population. The Report does however call for further, more extensive research in certain areas of MSG study, in particular the effect of glutamates on asthmatics.101


Despite the FDA’s objective to provide a complete and exhaustive study of MSG, the FASEB report was nonetheless subject to criticism from both sides of the debate. Given the report’s conclusion that MSG was safe for the general population, the anti-MSG activists felt that the FASEB report missed important studies and was, once again, overly favorable to industry.102 More surprisingly, however, was the criticism launched by the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC). Though the IGTC showed appreciation for “the clean bill of health” given to glutamate by the Expert Panel, it nonetheless felt that there were “instances of serious misunderstanding … that led the expert panel to a few unjustifiable conclusions.”103 Specifically, the IGTC called into question the findings with regard to asthmatics, stating that the panel overlooked the “no asthma” findings of one clinic and noted that another study cited by the FASEB Report had been criticized in the literature for its methodological and design flaws.104

Nevertheless, the findings of the FASEB study remain relatively unaffected, even ten years later. MSG is still “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, and despite numerous attempts to implement more stringent labeling standards for the food additive, the FDA’s long-standing labeling policy remains intact. And, even in spite of the enormous amount of time, resources and research that have been devoted to the investigation of MSG, the controversy has not subsided. The anti-MSG activists remain dogged in their attempts to reverse the FDA’s current position on the food additive, despite the realities of the past which indicate that their calls will be answered. In addition, the exposure devoted to MSG by the public press remains virtually unparalleled in the world of food additives. As one scholar reflected on this general media phenomenon, “if public paranoia continues, it is only a matter of time before apple pie itself comes under the toxicologist’s scrutiny.”105 And yet, despite the numerous scientific attempts to separate myth from reality, the body of anecdotal evidence targeting MSG continues to grow, as do the passionate responses from both sides of the debate, making only one thing clear – the controversy surrounding MSG is far from over.

Woodys spices

1 The Food Critic Makes a Good Argument, Judith Bodin, The Legal Intelligencer, Vol.231, No.16, July 23, 2004.

2 A Google search using the terms “MSG” and “monosodium glutamate” yields 53,200 hits.

3 Adrienne Samuels, a well-known anti-MSG activist, wrote a letter to Barbara Bush attributing the collapse of Former President George Bush during his visit to Japan to MSG. Samuels wrote, “Please for [President Bush’s] sake, for [the First Lady’s] sake, and for the welfare of our country, consider the possibility that the President is sensitive to MSG.” MSG Role in Bush Collapse Suggested to First Lady, Food Chemical News, Inc., Vol.33, No.48, Jan. 27,1992 available at 1992 WL 2211350.

4 Everything You Need to Know About Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate, Food Additives, Understanding Food Allergy, International Food Information Council Foundation, January 1997, at http://ificinfo.health.org.

5 Id.

6 Id. There is 0.339 mg of glutamate in 3 slices of tomato; 0.094 mg in ¼ cup of mushrooms; 0.047 mg in 2 Tbsp of parmesan cheese.

7 FDA and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), FDA Backgrounder, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, August 31, 1995, at 2.

8 Id at 1.

9 Everything You Need to Know About Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate, supra note 4.

10 Benarde, Melvin A., MD., The Chemicals We Eat 74 (McGraw-Hill Book Co. 1971).

11 International Glutamate Information Service, Discovery, at http://www.glutamate.org/media/glutamate.html.

12 Id. One writer has defined the taste of umami as the “full-mouthed, savoury, meaty sensation one gets from a well-concentrated broth or a hunk of aged beef.” Mireille Silcoff, The ascent of the 5th taste: Umami conquers America, finally, National Post, Nov. 20, 2004.

13 International Glutamate Information Service, Discovery, supra note 11.

14 Id. This site also suggests that fish sauce may have been the original “umami” seasoning, dating back to the seventh century BC. Fish sauce, which was full of glutamate, was among the most important trade commodities in ancient Greek and Roman civilization. http://www.glutamate.org/media/ginfoods.html.

15 New Science Provides New Insights into Health of Glutamate, Food Insight Newsletter (International Food and Information Council Foundation, Washington D.C.), March/April 2000, available at http://www.ific.org/foodinsight/2000/ma/gluamatefi200.cfm. See also Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate: Examining the Myths, IFIC Review (International Food Information Council Foundation), January 1997, at 1.

16 Everything You Need to Know About Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate, supra note 4.

17 Id.

18 FDA Backgrounder, supra note 7, at 1.

19 Everything You Need to Know About Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate, supra note 4. See also MSG does not cause headaches, Gloucestershire Echo, April 29, 2004, available at 2004 WL 74129106.

20 Everything You Need to Know About Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate, supra note 4.

21 Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 2.

22 New Science Provides New Insights into Health of Glutamate, supra note 15. See also Everything You Need to Know About Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate, supra note 4.

23 John D. Fernstrom, PhD, conference co-chair and Professor of psychiatry, pharmacology, and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as cited in New Science Provides New Insights into Health of Glutamate New Science, supra note 15.

24 International Glutamate Information Service, Glutamate in Our Bodies, at http://www.glutamate.org/media/ginbodies.html.

25 Id.

26 Id.

27 New Science Provides New Insights into Health of Glutamate, supra note 15. See also The Glutamate and Nutrition Fact Sheet available in PDF format at http://www.glutamate.org/media/pdfs/nutrgb.pdf.

28 Id.

29 The Glutamate and Nutrition Fact Sheet, supra note 27. Dietary glutamate, together with cysteine and glycine, is also used for the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that assists in the body’s defense mechanism.

30 Schiffman, SS. Taste and smell losses in normal aging and disease, J. Am. Med. Assoc., 278:1357-1362, 1997, as cited in Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 1-2. Studies show “that moderate levels of added MSG in certain foods, such as mushroom soup and mashed potatoes, can increase food intake in an institutionalized older population, thus increasing intake of necessary vitamins, minerals and protein from food.”

31 International Glutamate Information Service, Nutritional Benefits, at http://www.glutamate.org/media/nutrition.html.

32 Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 2.

33 21 C.F.R. § 182.1(a) (italics added).

34 FDA Backgrounder, supra note 7, at 2. See also International Glutamate Information Service, Approvals, http://www.glutamate.org/media/approvals.html.

35 Id.

36 AMA Report done in 1992. Id. In addition, please note the following findings: In 1980, the FASEB Select Committee on GRAS Substances found that MSG was safe at current levels of use. In 1986, the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Hypersensitivity to Food Constituents found that MSG poses no threat to most individuals, but “reactions of brief duration” may occur in some. FDA Backgrounder, supra note 7, at 2.

37 Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 2.

38 MSG Was Blamed, Food Chemical News CRC Press, Inc., Vol.35, No.21, July 19, 1993. A San Francisco gunman who killed eight people and himself blamed MSG for his actions. A document was found on the gunman’s body which blamed the FDA and the Surgeon General for allowing the food ingredient to be marketed.

39 Health; Medical Dictionary, The News Journal, Sept.28, 2004 available at 2004 WL 89103709.

40 A double-blind study is considered to be the “gold standard” for testing adverse reactions to any particular substance. In a double-blind study, neither the subject nor the researcher/tester knows whether a placebo or the actual substance has been administered. This type of study eliminates all possibility of bias, freeing the results from both the opinions of the test subject and from the expectations of the researcher. See Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 6.

41 Bendarde, supra note 10, at 131-32 and Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 5.

42 Examining the Myth, supra note 15, at 5.

43 Id.

44 Dr. Jonathan Wilkin of the Medical College of Virginia conducted a study using 24 subjects, 18 of whom described a history of CRS symptoms, in particular, flushing of the skin. After feeding the subjects both 3 gram and 5 gram doses of MSG, Wilkin found no MSG-provoked flushing. Scientists, Tarasoff and Kelly, also conducted a study to test the sensory side effects potentially caused by MSG. Using a double-blind study with 71 participants, Tarasoff and Kelly administered five different treatments, which included two placebos and three different doses of MSG. Two hours after intake, the subjects were interviewed and half reported more than one CRS symptom regardless of MSG content. One of the largest studies was conducted in 1998 using 130 subjects who declared to have an MSG intolerance. Using double-blind placebo-controlled testing, the researchers once again found that no adverse reactions were produced with MSG or the placebo when taken with food. Any reactions that were observed were “mild, transient and non life-threatening.” Examining the Myth, supra note 15, at 6.

45 Chin and colleagues suggest that histamine toxicity produces CRS-like symptoms, and therefore may be misattributed. Chin, K.W., Garriga, M.M. & Metcalfe, D.D. The Histamine Content of Oriental Foods, Food and Chemical Toxicology, 27:283-287, 1989, as cited in Examining the Myth, supra note 15, at 6.

46 Samuels say Ebert MSG Letter Intended Solely to Discredit, Food Chemical News, Vol.33, No.35, October 28, 1991 available at 1991 WL 2746845.

47 Id.

48 Dr. Roland Auer, one of the independent scientists who served on the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology’s Expert Panel for the report on MSG has accused Jack Samuels of making false statements about his industry connections and discrediting scientific results without basis. In a letter to Samuels, Auer stated, “Let me reemphasize that I am an independent scientist, receive no money from the food industry, and do not march to the tune of the food industry … I would request that you, in your speaking and writing, not denigrate our efforts. Instead, appreciate the seriousness and honesty of the massive effort that has gone into independent scientists addressing this problem in which we have no vested interest.” MSG Sensitivity Requires Double-Blind Tests: Auer, Food Chemical News CRC Press, Inc., Vol.37, No.32, October 2, 1995.

49 Study by Australian scientists Tarasoff and Kelly as cited in MSG Vindicated in Australian Study, Food Chemical News CRC Press, Inc., Vol.36, No.6, April 4, 1994.

50 MSG Safety Allegations Based on Errors, Food Chemical News CRC Press, Inc., Vol.35, No.23, August 2, 1993. This term “pseudo-food allergy” has been used to describe the “false conviction that one suffers from a food allergy.”

51 Examining the Myth, supra note 15. See also Mild Reactions Triggered in IGTC-Backed MSG Challenge Study, Food Chemical News CRC Press, Vol.36, No.21, July 18, 1994. In a 1993 study funded by Allerx Inc., it was reported that 14% of U.S. households believed one or more individuals in their household suffered from a food allergy. Based on these figures, the study estimated that 16 million people, 7% of the population, believed they had a food allergy, a figure which is two to three times the number of people that experts says are actually food allergic.

52 Mild Reactions Triggered, supra note 51. Dr. Altman conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, administered to 16 individuals who claimed to have an MSG sensitivity. Dr. Altman reported mild, self-limiting reactions in only three subjects who had been given MSG only, ingested on an empty stomach.

53 Id.

54 Id. Allerx’s Vice-President of Operations, Betty Rauch, found this misperception of food allergy to be a deeply disturbing phenomenon.

55 Verrett, Jacqueline & Carper, Jean, Eating May Be Hazardous to Your Health, Simon and Schuster, New York (1974), p.98-99.

56 Id. at 88.

57 Id. at 97-98.

58 Current MSG Debate Created Unjustified Concern, Food Chemical News, Vol.33, No.35, October 28, 1991 available at 1991 WL 2746858.

59 International Glutamate Information Service, Glutamate in Our Bodies, available at http://www.glutamate.org/media/ginbodies.html.

60 International Glutamate Information Service, News, available at http://www.glutamate.org/media/news.html. Other researches that have noted that in some abnormal circumstances, excess glutamate can be released which causes a flooding of cells with calcium, which has been implicated in a number of different diseases. However, there is no evidence that dietary glutamate has this effect. MSG Critic Alleges Revelevant Data Suppressed, Food Chemical News CRC Press, Inc., Vol.36, No.24, August 8, 1994.

61 Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 3.

62 Verrett, supra note 55, at 88-89.

63 Evidence Supports MSG Elimination, Food Chemical News, Vol.36, No.22, July 25, 1994. Dr. Russell Blaycock reported on studies conducted in 1969.

64 Verrett, supra note 55, at 89.

65 It was Olney’s accusations of the bias within the FDA and the National Academy of Sciences that contributed to Senator Charles Percy demanding a Congressional investigation of the NAS Committee procedures. Verrett, supra note 55, at 92.

66 Labuza, Ted, The Risks and Benefits of Food Supply, as cited by Smyth, Todd R., The FDA’s Public Board of Inquiry and the Aspartame Decision, 58 Ind. L.J. 627, 649 (1982).

67 Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 3.

68 Study by Bazzano, D’Elia and Olson involving 11 human adult males who consumed diets containing MSG dosages of up to 147 grams/day for a maximum of 42 days. Id. Olney has responded to some of these claims, maintaining that the reasons that other laboratories have not been able to replicate his glutamate-induced neurotoxic effects is due to the use of phencyclidine hydrochloride (PCP) by other researchers. PCP, an animal tranquilizer which is used for sequential animal testing, is known to protect neurons from glutamate testing. However, researchers like Dr. Lewis Stegink of the University of Iowa College of Medicine defends that Olney also uses PCP in his primate studies and therefore use of PCP by other groups was an effort to replicate Olney’s original results. Testimony on Reported Adverse MSG Effects Disputed, Food Chemical News, Vol.35, No.52, February 21, 1994.

69 New Science Provides New Insights, supra note 15.

70 Id.

71 William Pardridge, M.D., illustrated that dietary glutamate cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier. Brian Meldrum, M.D., also concluded that “dietary consumption of glutamate has not been shown to cause neuropathology in man.” Quentin Smith, Ph.D., reaffirmed these findings in his study of neural glutamate concentration. Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 4.

72 Pitkin, R.M., Reynolds, W.A., Stegink, L.D. et al. Glutamate metabolism and placental transfer in pregnancy, as cited in Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 2.

73 Id.

74 Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 3. Moreover, free glutamate is 10 times more plentiful in human breast milk than in cow’s milk, and therefore a newborn infant who is being breastfed will ingest more free glutamate per kg of body weight than during any other period in his life.

75 New Science Provides New Insights, supra note 15.

76 Examining the Myths, supra note 15, at 7.

77 Id.

78 Id.

79 See Verrett, supra note 55, at 87-93. See also letter from anti-MSG activist, Jack Samuels, to FDA Commissioner David Kessler, alleging that the FDA used devious means to “assure the GRAS status of [certain] substances and to continue the poisoning of America” and that the American people “with the help of the FDA and the glutamate industry organizations … have been kept from knowing the truth about neurotoxic sensitivity and where MSG is hidden in food.” Amino Acid Report Seen As Posing Dilemma for FDA, Food Chemical News, Vol.34, No.32, October 5, 1992 available at 1992 WL 2212017.

80 Claims made by Dr. George R. Schwartz, a New Mexico physician and long-time critic of the FDA’s MSG policy. Parallels Between FDA Handling of MSG, Breast Implants, Food Chemical News, Vol.33, No.49, February 3, 1992 available at 1992 WL 2211258.

81 Current MSG Debate Created Unjustified Concern, Food Chemical News, Vol.33, No.35, October 28, 1991 available at 1991 WL 2746858.

82 However, the FDA does not require that other foods containing substantial amounts of glutamate, like hydrolyzed protein, include the phrase “includes glutamate” after their ingredient listing. These food ingredients need only be listed by the common names. FDA Backgrounder, supra note 7, at 4. FDA received a citizen’s petition in 1994 requesting a mandatory listing for MSG as an ingredient on the labels of foods containing manufactured free glutamate, but this petition was denied. FDA Denies MSG Labeling Petition, Food Chemical News, Vol.38, No.47, January 13, 1997 available at 1997 WL 10013291.

83 Dept. of Health and Human Services Notice. Analysis of Adverse Reactions to Monosodium Glutamate; Announcement of Study, Request for Scientific Data and Information; Announcement of Open Meeting. 58 FR 13495.

84 FDA Backgrounder, supra note 7, at 2.

85 FASEB Issues Final Report on MSG, FDA Talk Paper, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, August 31, 1995.

86 Department of HHS Notice, supra note 83.

87 Dept. of Health and Human Services Notice. Analysis of Adverse Reactions to Monosodium Glutamate; Announcement of Study, Request for Scientific Data and Information; Announcement of Open Meeting. 57 FR 57467.

88 The list of these 18 questions is attached as Appendix A.

89 FDA Backgrounder, supra note 7, at 3.

90 MSG Adverse Effect On Subgroups Demonstrated, Food Chemical News, September 4, 1995 and Analysis of Adverse Reactions to Monosodium Glutamate, LSRO, FASEB contracted by FDA, (hereinafter “FASEB Report”, Dept. of HHS, July 1995, at v.

91 FASEB Report at Ch.V, Sec.B (p.39-42).

92 Id. at Ch. VII, Sec.B (2) (p. 52-56). Moreover, the Expert Panel states, “The relative paucity of studies, particularly those employing oral (rather than intragastric) challenges with MSG, the lack of relevant biochemical date, and the lack of assessment of functional changes (e.g., behavioral or endocrinological) in challenged infants preclude the possibility of extrapolating available data from nonhuman primates to conditions of human exposure.”

93 A reaction is most likely if the MSG is consumed in large quantities or in a liquid. FASEB Report, supra note 90, at xv. The Expert Panel maintains that the testimonial reports suggest, but do not establish, causality by MSG. However, they write, “the overall impression of the Expert Panel is that causality has been demonstrated.” FASEB Report, supra note 90, at v.

94 The Expert Panel indicated that evidence to support any other predisposing factor, aside from asthma, would be conjectural, but studies to test for such potential conditional are “research avenues worth pursuing.”

95 In particular, the issues of continuation and discontinuation of asthma medication proved problematic to these studies.

96 Though the FASEB Report lists unstable asthma as the only potential predisposing factor, they maintain that the literature indicates the following situations in which subgroups may be effected by MSG: individuals with vitamin B-6 deficiency, infants, women taking oral contraceptives, and individuals with affective disorders. It goes on to state that “in the face of a complete lack of studies addressing these contingencies, any statements about the potential increase in susceptibility in these subgroups to adverse effects from the ingestion of MSG are speculative at this time.” FASEB Report, supra note 90, at Ch.IX,Sec.B(5), p.105.

97 FASEB Report, supra note 90, a vi.

98 In addition, the Expert Panel notes that no case reports of cardiac arrhythmias have been presented since these reports in 1977 and 1982. FASEB Report, supra note 90, at vii.

99 As compared to MSG being given without food and on an empty stomach. FASEB Report, supra note 90, at Ch.IX, Sec.B(5), p.103. The exception was a study in which 5 g of MSG was given with a small meal.

100 The Expert Panel states that a dose greater than 3 grams is probably not needed since a subject who failed to react to a dose of 3 gram given under fasting conditions will not likely react to the quantities of glutamates found in foods under “real-life” circumstances.

101 Though not the focus of this paper, the FASEB Report did offer two other primary findings: 1) The level of vitamin B6 in the human body plays a role in glutamate metabolism; and 2) There is no scientific evidence indicating that the levels of glutamate in hydrolyzed proteins causes adverse effects.

102 MSG Activists Attack FDA Report as ‘Sloppy,” Biased, Food Chemical News, CRC Press, Inc, April 24, 1995.

103 IGTC Challenges FASEB Report’s MSG Conclusions, Food Chemical News, Vol.37, No.42, December 11, 1995.

104 Id. The Scripps Clinic had no findings of asthma after MSG exposure. In addition, the IGTC reported “misinterpretations” of the MSG data on the grounds that the panel assumed equal toxic sensitivities across animal species, when in fact, there is a great deal of data indicating that “neonatal rodents are far more sensitive [to MSG] than non-rodent species.”

105 Benarde, supra note 10, at 14.

dis ‘n feit soos ‘n koei

June 9, 2011 1 comment

Dit is nou maar ‘n feit soos ‘n koei dat goeie bacon afhang van goeie varke.

A direct translation for our international friends is:  “It is a fact like a cow (a bit strange, but popolar afrikaans idiom), that making good bacon depends on using good pigs.

This morning Eben and Dr Jim Robertson, an independent consultant to the pork industry in South Africa visited the Keibees-piggery in the Western Cape.


At the end of 2010, Woodys started a re-look of the entire bacon production cycle, from the genetics to the end product.  It was Dr Robertson who drove the message home that good bacon starts with good genetics and that only a happy pig will ever become good tasting bacon.

Woody’s continues to look for mutually beneficial relationships with farmers who produce top quality pigs and slaughter in state-of-the-art abattoirs.  Woodys buys this meat and process it in world class processing facilities (makes the best bacon on earth!).


The Keibees-piggery is an interesting example of just such a place.   Apart from being state-of-the-art and an exceptionally well run facility, it has a rich history.

As far as I have the story, the piggery was set up initially by Dr. Laurie Miller in 1967 when he returned from the Ciskei (a previous black homeland) where he worked as a vet.  When he left Ciskei he was given a cow as a present from local people.

Back in Cape Town he procured the farm Keibees and approached the regional pork giant, Spek & Ham.  At that point they were not slaughtering every day and he proposed that they assist him to set up a piggery so that they will have more pigs to slaughter.  I.e. they will be able to run their abattoir at fuller capacity, thus making it more economical to slaughter.

Spek & Ham aparantly liked the plan and gave him £300 to set up the piggery.

The piggery never worked out and in 1986 Cilliers Louw got involved.  It was under his ownership that the piggery was turned around and has grown into the world-class farm it is today.



As we drove from the farm, back to Rondebosch and looking at the beautiful area where the piggery is situated, just outside Paarl, Jim remarked that besides being a world class piggery, there is no finer view any pig in the country can have.


And I was thinking – this is true Jim.  And fortunately so, because you taught us that happy pigs make good tasting bacon!


How we make it.

June 8, 2011 1 comment

We select the finest South African pork from the best pork farms where animals are bread and raised in clean and healthy environments, free from growth hormones.

Happy and healthy pigs are two absolute prerequisites for making good bacon.  Sourcing pork from only approved farms is the first step in making the best bacon on earth!  Quality!

woodys pig farm 2

We pickle the meat overnight and inject it with meat tenderizers and spices for superior taste  in a process called “brining”.

The eGullet Culinary Institute (eGCI) describes the process as follows:

Brining . . . is a way to introduce seasoning deep within the muscle, and when done properly, results in well-seasoned, tender and juicy meat. . . . . It substitutes additional water and seasoning for the missing succulence, but in many cases this is sufficient, if not entirely satisfactory.

Does it work? 

Of course it works; this is science. . . . , whether or not you like the result is a matter of taste, and to some extent, a matter of application.

The process results in a more tasty product.

pickling pork

Then we smoke it for two hours in special smoke houses using European Beech Wood!

We have opted NOT to use liquid smoke (imitation smoke), used by almost all major bacon brands in South Africa.

The reason why we smoke our pork meat has today mainly to do with the taste of the product, but years ago, our grandparents smoked it as a way of preserving the meat.

Miroslaw Gebarowski and his associates describe the benefits of natural wood smoking as follows:

“Man discovered that in addition to salting and curing meat with nitrates, smoking was a very effective tool in preserving meats.

The advantages of smoking meat are numerous. Smoking:

  • Kills certain bacteria and slows down the growth of others.
  • Prevents fats from developing a rancid taste.
  • Prevents mold from forming on fermented sausages.
  • Extends shelf life of the product.
  • Improves the taste and flavor.
  • Changes the color; smoked meats shine and simply look better.

As to the merits of natural wood-smoking of bacon vs. the use of liquid smoke that most of the major brands in South Africa employ, Jeff from smoking-meat.com says the following:

“A wood smoker is and will forever be the best way to smoke food.”

Woodys is natural wood smoked pork!


Using this European wood ensures that we only use 100% natural products in the smoking process with no additives.  The Beech wood provides an attractive, appetizing colour and an unbeatable flavour!

Beachwood European

We pack the bacon, using Multivac packing machines from two processing facilities.  One in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg.

Woodys Multivac

From here, its shipped to warehouses around the country from where its delivered to leading supermarkets.

In the end, Woody’s is enjoyed in delicious meals!

woodys bacon loaf a

To find a grocery outlet closest to you that stocks Woodys, please visit: http://woodys-world.com/in-your-area/

Woodys Maple Bacon Loaf


woodys bacon loaf a

Woodys Maple Bacon Loaf is a torpedo-shaped creation where Maple Syrup marinated streaky bacon is woven and wrapped around 1kg of sausage meat.   Its an adaptation of a creation by Jason Day, in foreground, and Aaron Chronister, looking on.


woodys bacon loaf


Marinade the bacon with 30% Woodys Maple Brine overnight and weave.

woodys bacon loaf 2


The bacon is then seasoned and covered with a layer of sausage meat.

woodys bacon loaf 3


That is then covered with a crunchy layer of cooked Woodys bacon.

woodys bacon loaf 4


The internal layers are then rolled up tight and wrapped in the bacon mat.

woodys bacon loaf 5


The dish can be baked or braai’ed.

woodys bacon loaf 6


*  Photo: Don Ipock for The New York Times
**  Original recipe from:  http://www.nytimes.com
*** History of the dish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacon_Explosion
**** Adapted by Woodys Brands (Pty) Ltd: http://www.woodysbacon.co.za

Woodys Savoury Bacon Muffins


Savoury Bacon Muffins


* 1 3/4 cups self raising flour

* 2 tbsp castor sugar

* 1 tsp baking powder

* 1 tsp paprika

* 1 cup grated cheese

* 1 small carrot -grated

* 1 small baby marrow -grated

* 100 grams of Woody’s bacon -chopped

* 1 egg, -beaten

* 3/4 cup milk

* 1/3 cup of butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C . Grease 12 regular muffin tins by brushing the bases with oil.
  2. Sift the flour, paprika and baking powder into a bowl.
  3. Use some paper towel to absorb some of the moisture from the grated vegies.
  4. Add the cheese, Woody’s bacon, sugar and vegies to the flour and mix well.
  5. Mix the egg, butter and milk in another bowl.
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mix and fold in with a fork. Do not over mix.. it just has to be moist.
  7. Spoon into muffin tins, filling each one about two-thirds.
  8. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until just starting to brown and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Place muffins on a wire rack to cool.

The recipe was submitted my Malanie Delport from ABAFAZI Guest House.  If you want a GREAT place to stay in Pretoria East and enjoy Woodys bacon for breakfast, contact Melanie and tell her Eben sent you.  Smile


Melanie Delport
Abafazi Guest House
Guest House Manager
Tel: 012 993-5726
073 2899 187

Web: ww.abafazi.org

Welcome to the Woodys family!

After months of planning, we can finally say:

Woodys welcomes Table Bay Meats to its family!

From battling to get machines installed:

and loooong negotiations, to our first production day on 24/5/11.  These are some of the pic’s from our first day:


Our first packets from Cape Town.













Looking forward to tomorrow!  and many tomorrows after that!

Reducing pork carcass defects during processing

By Michael Fielding on 5/23/2011

Genetics set the level of pork quality. Everything else you do can screw it up, says David Meisinger, executive director of the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence.

That sort of pressure on processors to maintain high-quality meat extends well beyond the live side. Pigs in particular are susceptible to stress, considering that even minor changes in their metabolisms increases lactic acid, resulting in dry, pale meat.

The body temperature is highly related to the increased metabolism, so the focus should be on preventing a rise in temperature on the live side and consequently reducing the heat as quickly as possible once the pig has been stunned.

Stunning system debate

Although electrical stunning and CO2 stunning both have their advantages, each has a different effect on pork quality.

Electrical stunning, though effective at rendering the animal insensible, can cause broken backs and shoulders in addition to bruising and other defects related to rapid muscle contractions. That can be controlled largely by the placement of the electrodes.

“The farther back you put electrodes in head-to-rib or head-to-back stunning, the better,” Meisinger says. “Head-only stunning works, but you get an intense amount of kicking. There’s less kicking with head-to-back stunning because you’re causing cardiac arrest – not just brain death.” Although more space between electrodes causes less kicking, it does raise the chances of a broken back in today’s lean but extremely muscular pigs.

Ideally processors should combine high-frequency, head-only stunning with low-frequency stunning with a breast plate to dramatically reduce excessive kicking while retaining pork quality.

Carbon dioxide stunning systems have been shown to reduce incidents of pale, soft, exudative (PSE) meat to about 3 percent (compared with more than 15 percent from electrical stunning). Supporters of CO2 stunning argue that the high costs of implementing and maintaining a CO2 stunning system are offset by consistently better meat quality.

Regardless of which method is used, the key is to remove the heat from the carcass as quickly as possible. With electrically stunned pigs (whose body temperatures are elevated as a result of the stun) the time between stun and stick should be no more than six seconds (although the industry has averaged about 25 to 35 seconds). The goal is to minimize blood splash that results from the rapid drop in blood pressure.

One way to address it is through a horizontal stick system to reduce the stun-to-stick interval and to minimize postmortem body convulsions. “As soon as pig is stunned, you’re wasting valuable seconds,” Meisinger says. “The quicker you can get the blood out, it goes a long way to getting the heat out of the carcass.”

Early post-mortem

The days of maintaining a bleed time of at least five minutes before scalding are gone. New studies from Iowa State University have shown that nearly all the blood is removed within three minutes post-sticking. In fact, 92 percent of the blood is removed in two minutes and 98 percent in three minutes.

Additionally, the carcass must move quickly to evisceration and chilling. That doesn’t always happen in plants that use buffer rails to hang the carcasses. Because of the warm ambient temperatures (the carcasses are usually near scald tanks at this point in the process), they’re essentially being incubated.

That causes a drop in pH levels and results in lactic acid buildup, which is typically burned up as energy in aerobic systems. Yet once the pig is dead, despite the absence of oxygen in the muscle, the buildup may continue for several hours afterward in a warm carcass. “If conditions are right and the temperature is elevated at the time of slaughter (caused by prodding, for example), there’s a greater amount of lactic acid because the pig is stressed,” Meisinger adds. “So you’ve got to avoid incubating the carcass as much as possible.”

He recommends limiting the time carcasses are left to hang on buffer rails to no more than 10 minutes.

Evisceration and chilling

“The time from stun to evisceration is also important in keeping PSE to a minimum,” Meisinger says. “The viscera hold a lot of heat, so get to the carcass as fast as possible to get to that second source of heat.” Meisinger recommends reducing the time from stick to chill to a maximum of 30 minutes.

In addition to the circulatory system and the viscera, the third source of heat is the carcass itself.

“At this point the carcass is still living tissue and continues to metabolize,” Meisinger explains. But with no source of oxygen, it transforms into an anaerobic state — another prime environment for lactic acid buildup. “That’s why a lot of packers went to blast chill to further the process of getting the heat out.”

Early post-slaughter temperature influences the tenderness of the pork through its control over the glycolytic rate, and Meisinger recommends that the internal muscle temperature should be about 36degrees F to 40 degrees F at 24 hours post-mortem — a drop of more than 60 degrees from the temperature at the time of death.


In 1991, the U.S. meat packing industry began to focus largely on producing lean pigs. Then qualities such as color, texture, drip loss and tenderness became the norm as the nation began to shift away from its status as a net importer. With the rise in exports came expectations of high-quality, lean but muscular pigs.

Now as the United States maintains its status as the top pork producer in the world, the focus on quality is as important as ever. One of the best ways to maintain high-quality pork is to quickly reduce the temperature of the circulatory system, the viscera and the carcass itself.

Article from Meatingplace.com


I have been reading a fascinating article The Law of Unintended Consequences: Neither a Law nor Unintended…The author writes:

In the Hindu religion, all the effects that follow from our actions, words and ways of thinking are called Karma, which means consequences. “Consequences,” the [Bhagavad-Gita would say], “are contained in an action the way a tree is implicit in a seed. If you plant an apple seed with the intent of getting apples, you don’t simply get apples; you get the whole tree….the longer we go on making the same mistakes, the more consequences accumulate, and the more painful the suffering” (The Bhagavad-Gita for Daily Living, 3, P. 14-15, by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, Petaluma, California, 1984).

We have been preparing to do things differently for months now.  Re-engineering the entire Woodys concept.  Linking quality to the entire process of producing bacon – from the genetics to the point where the consumer eat our bacon. We have to control the entire process.  From start to finish.

Woodys is fully committed to delivering quality products to consumers, when they want it, how they want it, at the lowest possible price.  No matter what the challenge.

We are not only learning from the best in the world, writing strategy documents and drawing up budgets – we are also implementing!  Every day we are doing things better!

Its not always smooth sailing and every day brings its own unique challenges. In Cape Town we had to get a machine, too big to fit in the lift, in here.


Time was fast running out and we were approaching two promotions with our biggest two clients.  We were out of time!

Gary had a plan.  I felt sick to my stomach, but, we had to do it.  Smile



The time it took Gary and myself to get to the top floor was all the time needed to lift the machine.  When we got to the top, it was done.




Above you can see Gary, helping to pull the machine in using pallet jacks.

And below you can see – if something went wrong, it would have gone horribly wrong!  Smile






All went well and the machine was in.  We did not realise that it would take us another week to get the machine going, but this is a story for another day.






The following week the team met in Potchefstroom.   Below is Oscar and Andre Coetzee in serious discussions and planning.  The work continues full steam ahead!





The fact of the matter is that Woodys is changing!  Every day.  Learning, growing, and delivering on its promises!



ons maak nie NET bacon nie!

By Woodys is ons nie NET vriende met mense wat bacon maak nie!

Elize is een van ons vriendinne en iemand wie baie met Woodys uithelp in die kantoor as Elzarie nie daar is nie.  Sy en Pieter Schempers het op 5 Mei 2011, om 6:30 die trotse ouers geword van ‘n baba dogtertjie, Clarissa.  Sy is in Medi Cliniek in Potchefstroom gebore.

3.4kg en is 49cm lank.  Pik swart haartjies en krule nes Elize.  Pieter se^ sy is haar ma se kind uit geknip.


Elize en Pieter ken mekaar al Graad 1 af, was saam in laerskool gewees, maar Hoer Skool is sy Gimmies toe en Pieter Potch Tegnies toe.

Betroubare bronne vertel ons dat sy gedurende haar swangerskap 90% van die bed oorgeneem het en arme Pieter moes tevrede wees met sy 10%.

Elize het so rukkie terug letters gekoop wat sy Clarissa se naam gespel het om op haar deur te sit.  Toe sy eendag gou etenstyd huis toe gaan het Jack(haar jackrussel) 2 van die letters op geeet.

Pieter was van die begin af vas oortuig dat dit ‘n seuntjie sal wees, maar natuurlik is sy babbel bietjie gebars toe sy amper 20 weke swanger was.

Die cravings – sy was net altyd lus vir PIZZA.  Elzarie het vir morele ondersteuning pienk sweeties geeet names haar.  :-)

BAIE GELUK JULLE TWEE!  Of moet ons se^ drie? :-)


** alle informasie is verskaf deur betroubare bronne – dankie Elzarie!! :-)

Quality bacon – from genetics to consumer


“Pig production is a techno-scientific internationalized business that is continuously exposed to change and risk. Changes in the Agri-Business are inter alia caused by changes in globalization, information technology, biotechnology and changes in consumer trends.”  DP Visser

Woodys’ goal is to create quality through vertical integration of the supply chain – from the level of genetic’s to the point where consumers enjoy the product, thus achieving total quality.

“To embrace the concept of quality (a consumer demand principle) all levels in the production chain (at the genetic level through the breeding objectives, at the farm level through the entire production system, in transit and at the slaughterhouse and processing levels) should be integrated.”  DP Visser


It is a known pattern for small competitors to enter a market based on opportunistic advantages.  It utilizes these advantages while conditions prevail that create the opportunity.  However, these conditions never prevail indefinitely since the new competitor has limited control over external factors.  In particular factors pertaining to the supply of raw material and production.

Woodys entered the market in exactly the same way.

Having survived the “opportunistic years” , the challenge is to transform Woodys from an opportunistic player to a mature and stable entity.

Maturity is brought about by integrating the supply chain and will be predicated on maturity.  Integration means control over every aspect of the value chain, notably the supply of raw material, processing and distribution.

Control over these will result in stability which will translate into consistent quality, which will result in profit-stability and maximization.  During the opportunistic phase, profits are sporadic and dependent on “the last good deal”.

By contrast, a well integrated supply chain results in consistent quality and sustained profitability, contingent on overall supply-chain and value-chain structures.

For things to become better, we had to begin by cutting out the unstable parts which resulted in reduced output.

Start-up’s are often reliant on many suppliers.  This was the case with Woodys and we bought meat wherever we could get a good deal.

As companies mature, they cut down on their suppliers and become reliant on a limited number of good suppliers.


Three supplier categories:

The three categories of suppliers that Woodys has to integrate are:

a.  raw material supply (meat, spices),

b.  processing and equipment, and

c.  distribution

Every supply category and every supplier have to be directed to contribute  materially to the end goal of delivering a quality product that consumers enjoy.

The integration must be deliberately designed along the flow of information between the different suppliers.

Let me mention a few specific’s:

-  Pigs must be used that consumers are happy with.  Meaning,  they must be healthy, bread in humane, clean conditions and free from growth hormones and other questionable chemicals;

-  The fat content in the carcasses and the size of the different muscles must be determined by choosing the right pig breed which will result in an improved meat quality and greater consumer acceptance;

-  The animal must be slaughtered using techniques that will eliminate PSE;

- Slaughtering, deboning and processing must be integrated as far as possible to reduce wastage due to thawing loss and minimize pre- and post-processing contamination;

-  the latest processing and packaging technology must be used.  This is a science and an art and must be approached as such.

-  Distribution must be effective to ensure the shortest possible time period between production and delivery to the retail store;

-  Cold-chain management must be considered as a non-negotiable and only the best supply chain techniques must be used.

Woodys is aggressively addressing every aspect mentioned above.


Integrating and re-designing in light of quality requirements of raw material is being put in place.

“Genetics is the hidden golden thread running through any livestock supply chain. If a substantial portion of consumer satisfaction and quality assurance can be resolved (guaranteed) at the genetic level (thus conception), these guarantees will be conducive to quality assurance further down the supply chain. Carcass and meat quality have become increasingly important in modern day pig production, despite the fact that the emphasis has been too long on input efficiency and too short on output efficiency in South Africa.”  DP Visser

Supply of raw material will remain a balance between local supply and imports with an expectation for South Africa’s reliance on pork imports to  increase from 20% to 30% between 2011 and 2017 (OECD, 2008).

The trend that researchers have identified of “less suppliers” will be one of the results of a far greater organisational clarity about meat and processing quality.

Even imports will be done, not on an opportunistic basis, but based on sourcing products from suppliers who conform to the Woodys requirements and that of its distribution channels in terms of quality.

woodys processing

The 2nd element that must be integrated is processing.

The local processing industry is not nearly as well developed as the production side of pigs through the various university departments of agriculture and economics and their graduate and post graduate research programs.

South African Pork Producers’ Organisation  (SAPPO) plays a key role in coordinating the pork supply industry.  No such organisation exist for meat processors and industry standards imposed by retailers such as Pick ‘n Pay, Shoprite/ Checkers and Spar are by far the most important “coordinating” factors”.

The problem is that these standards focus exclusively on food safety and not on the “how to” in terms of processing of meat.

tonnies meat

Woodys uses a strategy of growing contract packers such as German Butchery as well as setting up its own factories to produce its products.   Its goal will remain growing both aspects under the the leadership of a top German fleischmeister through Woodys Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd.

Even though all processing plants are audited and approved for supply to the leading retailers of Pick ‘n Pay, Shoprite/ Checkers and Spar, Woodys continues to work on transforming its current processing capacity by aligning it to best practices internationally and growing its overall processing capacity.

The 3rd supply component to be integrated is distribution.

Woodys has made significant progress in setting up an effective distribution system during 2010 and these efforts will continue.

The Woodys Supply Chain is variety oriented.  It is complex.  Some components identified by Anupind & Bassok which we see in Woodys are:

-  product design

-  production

-  third party logistics

-  incentives

-  performance measures

-  multi location inventory control

The overall challenge is daunting, but is one that the Woodys management team gladly embraces.

DP Visser says:

“Lack of comprehensive supply chain vision linked with an obsessive drive to improve pork quality holds serious implications for the international competitiveness, consumer confidence and sustained quality assurance.”


Woodys is integrating its raw material supply, processing and distribution and all three must be done at international “best practices” levels.  Continued relevance of the brand in the market depends in this.

This overall process must be predicated on good relationships which must become more integrated and must rest on the following pillars.

i.  flow of information across and through the entire network;

ii.  strong relationships with partners in the value chain;

iii.  close and loyal relationships with the consumers.

The Woodys team is obsessed with achieving quality.  Quality is however far more than simply appointing a few QA managers.  It requires complete integration along international “best practices” in every aspect of the supply chain in order to deliver an exceptional product to the consumer, at the lowest possible price.

Easter Promotion in Johannesburg

woodys news

Peter Drucker said that its the goal of every business to create a customer.

Will and the Johannesburg team from PFM did just this on Saturday at the Woodys Easter promotion in Checkers Hyper Edenvale, Johannesburg.

They took 6 cases Woodys bacon for promotion. In-store they decided to do a buy 2 get one free deal. The team started at 10:00.  ALL free stock was sold out by 12:45.

No more free stock….. 14 packets were prepared for tasters. The consumers LOVED Woodys!

Will and the team created customers!  Well done guys!

Here are some of the promotion pic’s:

a Edenvale set-up

a Edenvale tasting

a Edenvale Woodys lovers

a team lunch

a Team on the move 2

a Team on the move

a Will and Preston

a Will Edenvale Fes



South African Magic

A week ago I have been inspired by the excellence of Merv Howell and Feast-de-Renaissance.

The idea of wrapping food-connoisseur-delights in bacon has been on my mind ever since.

In order to do this, I knew that we need good streaky bacon with a thin strip of fat on the side and mostly muscle.

As I have learned with Woodys, its one thing to produce a few quality pieces of bacon, but quite a different story producing these in huge volumes so that millions would benefit.

The first opportunity I got, I boarded an aeroplane for Johannesburg from Cape Town to meet one of the top pig farmers in the country.

Of course the scenery was idyllic!




We discussed pig production till 1:00 the next morning.  I went to bed and at 6:00, SFT (Standard Farmers Time), we were in the first meeting for the morning with some of his staff.

The plans we forged the previous evening were further discussed with the pigs.  Open-mouthed smile





In the end, this is where it all starts.  The quest to supply South Africans with exceptional products!  It starts with good animal genetics, best farming practices, world-class manufacturing and distribution through top retail outlets and then, the magic of exceptional recipes to go along with these.

and of course, the heart and soul of exceptional South Africans to make it all happen!

farm 030

(dedicated to every person who is part of the Woody’s dream)

story of an african farm

Last week we featured Woodys-wrapped-figs with sumptuous fruity figs from Feast-de-Renaissance.

The energetic Annelize Morkel from Feast-de-Renaissance invited me to the farm and on Friday morning I took a drive out of Cape Town to the Vyeboom Valley, between Franschoek, Elgin and Villiersdorp.

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Annelize welcomed me as soon as I parked my car in front of their offices and introduced me to the owner, Merv Howell.

I was ushered into the board room for the usual introductions. Under the watchful eye of a painting of Merv’s dad, I was given the background to this remarkable family.

Merv and his wife Lou joined the family fruit farming business more than 24 years ago.

After a tough farming period, they realised there had to be a better way to make a living and, since they possessed an abundance of pears, searched for ways to add value and concluded that if the flavour of the fruit could be captured in jars, they could offer discerning consumers something different.

They developed a range of world class products:  http://www.feast-de-renaissance.com

We were half an hour into the meeting, when Merv and Annalize realised that I did not know the pH at which our bacon is packed, the microbes responsible for the short shelf life of Bacon and the name of the pig breed used for Woodys bacon.  It was then when they decided that the only sensible thing to do with me is to feed me!

And oh boy, was I in for a treat!

Merv not only understands the word “culinary delights,” but he is also a brilliant chef and teacher.

He started cooking and listening to him was at least as pleasant as the mouth watering food that I would soon taste.

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Within the first few minutes I learned about sweating pepper and the fact that pork dont have to be  over-cooked.

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Merv’s character shone delightfully through.  His instance on absolute quality, the fact that one should never misclassify his products as anything but “exceptional” and “for the connoisseur.”

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His slight irritation with workers who did not have everything 100% to his liking, I soon tasted in his products also – not a hint of “average” or “less than exceptional.”

farm 030

Time was flying and I could not get enough of Merv’s stories and anecdotes.  Soon the pork fillet, wrapped in bacon and served with Feast‐de‐renaissance Spiced Plums in red wine was ready.

farm 028

The presentation was as sumptuous as the company and the food, soon to be enjoyed.

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After I tasted the food, all barriers of “being formal” crumbled and a perfect prepared pork fillet changed,

from this:

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to this:

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and down to the last delicious morsel!

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I was late for a very important meeting in Worcester, but I knew that this is a family that Woodys wants to associate with.

The recipe of the delicious products must be featured here, in our blog, with our natural wood-chip smoked Woodys bacon.

Joint promotions have to be conceptualised and possibly a new Woodys product range.

As I am writing this, I realise that I am so excited about Merv and Lou’s business, their exceptional products and the unique synergy with Woodys that I will again not sleep tonight!

Even more than any of these possibilities, Merv and Annalize reminded me on Friday about the magic of food.

Woodys is about world class pork production, uncompromised meat processing facilities and standards, appropriate distribution channels, superior management structures, processes, procedures and return on investment to shareholders.  But as important as all these factors are, in the end, we must never loose sight of the fact that Woody’s is about the magic of good food!

Thank you Merv and Annelize for reminding the entire Woody’s team about this!  And for your warm hospitality and GREAT products!

Woodys farms

Top bacon begins with top pigs:






We are passionate about pigs!


Farmers who would like to supply Woodys can contact eben on:



Categories: Uncategorized


April 10, 2011 1 comment

Nestled in the beautiful Vyeboom Valley, tucked between Franschoek and Elgin in the Overberg, is an exceptional fruit producer, Feast-de-Renaissance.

At Michaels in Camp Ground Road, Rondebosch, I bought a jar of their sumptuous fruity figs.  They describe it as follows:  “Piquant, fruity figs steeped in Red Wine & Raspberry vinegar & infused with spices. Nostalgic flavours evoke the warmth & spirit of Christmas & add to any celebration.  A delectable & versatile savoury product.”

bacon 2 004

My plan was simple.

Soak Woodys Shoulder bacon in the fig-sauce of “Red Wine & Raspberry vinegar & infused with spices,” fry it and wrap sliced figs with the marinated bacon.

I marinated it for an hour, even though I should probably have done so for at least a few hours.  In any event, I fried it with the characteristic black sugar burn and the mouth watering aroma filling the kitchen.


I then cut the figs in thin slices and wrapped it in Woodys.



Between Lauren, Tristan and myself we consumes 500g of Woodys-wrapped-figs in less than 5 minutes!

Its a hit!

04. Woody’s Extreme Bacon Pancakes

My good friend Matt Blum from America gave us the recipe for his Extreme Bacon Pancakes.

Pancakes are like bacon.  South Africans and Americans speak about them, but we both mean something slightly different.

Pancakes to South Africans are bigger, and served with cinnamon sugar (plenty cinnamon ) and a drizzle of fresh lemon/lime juice.

SA pancakes

So, the Woodys team had to adjust Matt’s recipe a bit.  In our defense this was our first attempt and it took a bit of balancing to prevent both the pancake and bacon from burning.

3 april 2011 043

Since we dont have uncured bacon and since I agree with Matt that it would be best to reduce the salty taste a bit, I soaked the bacon in water for and hour.

Instead of streaky bacon, we also opted for shoulder bacon.

The recipe was easy.  Snowflake pancake mix, two eggs, cooking oil and wine.  The wine was of course purely for drinking!

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Our first attempt was “less successful”.  We then decided to pre-fry all the bacon before we add the pancake mix.

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After frying the bacon, we lay 3 pieces of bacon at a time in the pan and pour the pancake mix in as normal.

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The result looked delicious.

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We then added some Illovo Maple Flavoured Syrup.

bacon pancake

The chef’s all concurred:   It was comprehensively, absolutely delicious!

3 april 2011 088

All the pictures from this afternoon is available on our Facebook Fan Page.

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The Great Bacon Odyssey: Extreme Bacon Pancakes


So I’m back from vacation, and ready to shave a few more weeks off my life in the service of science — bacon science, that is. This week’s mission: to make and eat bacon pancakes. And I don’t just mean regular pancakes with some chopped up bacon in them; I mean the baconiest bacon pancakes that ever baconed bacon. Or something like that.

I was inspired to this idea by a link to the very cool “historic gastronomy” blog Four Pounds Flour that several people sent me. In this article, an old ad for Rath bacon shows bacon pancakes being made by pouring batter over full strips of cooked bacon. As soon as I saw the ad, I knew I had to try it for myself.

My first step was to fry up some bacon. Since I was working without a recipe, I didn’t know if it would work best with crisp bacon or still-slightly-chewy bacon, so I made two strips each way. I chose to cook the bacon right on the griddle I was going to use for the pancakes, because that way I could use some of the rendered bacon fat as the cooking grease, and besides, why dirty more dishes, right? I also kept the fat I poured off ready at hand for another use, about which more in a minute.

Now, I’ll freely admit that I can be a bit of a food snob about some things, and pancakes are one of them. I’m usually the pancake-maker in my house, and I’ve tried enough different recipes over the years that I knew exactly which one I wanted to use this time: the one from the cookbook Welcome to Junior’s!, slightly modified and halved. That meant 0.75 cup of flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1.5 tbsp baking powder, 0.25 tsp salt, 0.75 cup milk, 1 egg, 1.5 tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and … the recipe calls for vegetable oil, but it seemed to me that any kind of fat would probably work fine, so I put in 1.5 tsp of the rendered bacon grease. Because we’re talking extreme bacon pancakes, and what could be more extreme than actually putting bacon grease in the batter itself?


From there it was pretty simple. I made sure there was a thin layer of bacon grease on the griddle, put down a strip of bacon, carefully poured batter over it, and cooked it as I usually would. Strip #1 was crisp, strip #2 was still-slightly-chewy, and since I figured that was enough for the test I changed things up a little for strips #3 and #4. For #3, I poured a little batter on the griddle first, put the bacon strip on top of it, then poured more batter over it, thus ensuring the strip was entirely encased in pancake. For #4, I broke the strip roughly in half, laid the pieces side-by-side, then poured the batter around and over them, thus making a more conventionally-shaped pancake.

Then I sat myself down with the pancakes (which I’d kept warm in a 200°F oven while finishing the cooking), a jug of grade B maple syrup, and a cup of limeade to wash it down. I ate all of the first two pancakes. My good friend Dave, who’d been so kind as to loan me his baking powder (as I’d belatedly realized I was out of it), ate the third one, and I saved the fourth for the next day.

The pancakes were incredible. Really, if you like bacon and you like pancakes, you owe it to yourself to try this at least once. It’s not even that horribly unhealthy, really, because each pancake is so filling you won’t want to eat that many of them. Every single bite had what in my opinion was the perfect balance between meaty, salty, airy and sweet. I think the fact that I used uncured bacon (yes, I know, that means it wasn’t technically bacon, but the taste is right even if the terminology isn’t), so it wasn’t overly salty, helped a lot, as of course did the application of maple syrup. Please, I beg you as a food snob, don’t sully the bacony goodness that these pancakes represent by using anything but real maple syrup on them, unless of course you have a medical reason for doing so.

By Matt Blum
Woody's Great American Adventure

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Woody’s Bacon-Apple Fritters

I have been sick for four weeks.   On my 3rd course of antibiotics.  Unable to get to Table Mountain for another week-end, I had lots of time for internet work.

This was how Matt Blum and I met on Friday evening.  He happened to be working on his computer when I got home and started playing on the internet.  The round earth thing connects people at interesting times.

I came across the work he has done on bacon recipes, calling it his Great Bacon Odyssey.

Matt agreed that we could re-post his work on bacon on our Woodys World Blog site.  The first being  The Great Bacon Odyssey: Bacon – Apple Fritters.

Stuck at home this week-end and board out of my skull, the kids and I decided to try his recipe.

Matt’s recipe calls for beer, flour, and a pinch of salt, but this is Cape Town and here we drink wine!  So, Tristan organised the wine and Woodys Streaky bacon.

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Lauren stood ready with the flour.

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Mixing the batter.

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Pre-frying the bacon as directed.

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Cutting the 1cm apple wedges.

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Wrapping the bacon around the apple wedges, holding them in place with toothpicks.

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Then we coated it with the batter.

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Fried it in 180 dec C oil for 5 minutes and whalla!

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It was TASTY!  The kids did not like it – they dont like the apple, but I loved it!  The apple broke the saltiness of the bacon brilliantly.  The nice smoky flavour of Woodys still came through brilliantly!

Definitely something I will make at a dinner party!

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The Sidney Independent

The following article appeared in The Sidney Independent on February 28, 2011. The Sidney Independent is celebrated for the highest journalistic integrity and independence in the industry.

In response to this article, Woodys has decided that the 1st quarter’s  Woodys Award for Excellence will go to The Sidney Independent for “accurate reporting” and “journalism of the highest standards”.

When either myself, Oscar or Anton is in the US again one of us will personally hand the award over to them.  We are also inviting the managing editor of The Sidney Independent to a top class African game farming experience when they are in Africa again.

Click on the image below to go to their site and the Woody’s Bacon article.  We also quote the article as it appeared.

Woody’s Bacon
February 28, 2011


There is a substance in this universe that compares to no other. It has a fragrance that can carry for miles and touch the tummy of even the staunchest vegetarian. It has a crispy, slightly crunchy texture that goes with a taste that no fitness person can argue tastes inferior to how healthy feels. It is salty but not too salty, fatty in just the right amount. If I were one of those non-pork eating religions I would change my religion, it is that good.

It is so good in fact, our family has become obnoxious bacon snobs. People as far away as Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland have heard us say, “It just isn’t Woody’s bacon”. We’re not nice people sometimes. We don’t care whose feelings we hurt when it comes to bacon.

Today, we honor our forefathers who had the foresight to slaughter a pig and slice it’s belly and smoke it. Charlotte’s Web be damned there is nothing better than bacon.

The Great Bacon Odyssey: Bacon–Apple Fritters

In America,  “Bacon” only refer to what South African’s call “streaky bacon”. However you view it, bacon is an adventure.  An odyssey.  This is the first installment of my Great Bacon Odyssey.

The idea for bacon-apple fritters grew out of a discussion I had with GeekDad’s fearless leader, Ken Denmead. We figured that, since other forms of pork are often served with apples — think of pork chops with applesauce, for example — why is bacon left out? So I got to thinking about the ways to prepare apples that would work well with bacon.  There’s something about taking a piece of nice, healthy fruit, dredging it in batter and cooking it in hot grease that seems quintessentially American. So what could be better than adding bacon to it?

Ken and I batted a few questions back and forth: Should the bacon be chopped up in the batter, or wrapped around the apple slices? If the latter, should there be anything in between the apple and the bacon? How to ensure the bacon is fully cooked before the apple turns to mush? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

I decided that the best bacon flavor would come from the bacon being wrapped around the apple prior to coating, and that simply partially precooking the bacon slices before wrapping them around apple slices would avoid both undercooked bacon and mushy apples. I decided on a simple beer batter for the coating, and got cooking.

baconapple1The first order of business was the batter. One cup flour, one teaspoon salt, one cup beer, mixed together thoroughly and left, covered, on the counter for an hour, then a little water added to make it more liquid for easier coating — it doesn’t get much easier, or better, than that. As the batter approached readiness, I fried the bacon slices until a lot of the fat had rendered (another advantage of precooking), but they hadn’t started to crisp up yet — crispiness being the enemy of wrapability, which I declare to now be a word. While the bacon cooled, I started the canola oil heating up to 180°C in the deep-fryer, then peeled and cored the apples.

I cut the apples (any sweet, firm apple should work) into wedges about 1cm thick. I hesitated for a moment, trying to decide if I should cut the bacon slices and do a half-slice per fritter. Then I realized how silly that idea was, and went ahead with one bacon slice each. I wrapped the bacon around the apples, using a toothpick through the apple and bacon to keep everything together until it was cooked. A quick dredge in the batter, letting the extra drip off, then into the fryer basket. My deep-fryer is on the small side, so I went with only two fritters per batch. After four minutes, I took them out, let the oil drain off, and then removed them from the basket to sit on some paper towels.

And it was there that the only problem arose: the fritters were stuck, hard, to the basket. I ended up pulling them off by force, leaving some of the batter on the bottom of the basket, which was unfortunate but it was too late to do anything about it. Once they’d cooled a bit, I tried one.

by Matt Blum

Woody's Great American Adventure

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Woody’s Great American Adventure

Great adventures are best experienced with good friends, exquisite wine and delicious food.

Matthew Hoiland, a good friend from Minnesota is spear heading Woodys, USA.

Late in 2010 a friend of Eben, Kim took Eben around Minneapolis one Friday to meet people from the meat industry.  After a fascinating, but completely unsuccessful day as far as connecting with key people from the industry was concerned, at the last and most unlikely place to connect with the right person, Eben met Matthew Hoiland.

They immediately clicked and the next day they met to progress the Woodys US concept.

After Eben’s return to South Africa, he and Matt continued to share thoughts and over the last few weeks Matt has been able to connect Woodys and some of the largest players in the US and world pork industry.

The Woodys adventure is taking shape in North America.

Last night Eben connected with Matt Blum through the internet as all the elements of a truly great adventure are coming together in the USA.

Matt is a software engineer for his day job, and has been writing for GeekDad for just about four years.  Matt lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Jen, two children and two cats.

Matt turns bacon into an adventure by creating delicious and mouth-watering recipes which he publishes on the GeekDad blog.  He calls his adventure – “The Great Bacon Odyssey”

Matt has graciously agreed for us to feature his odyssey on our Woodys blog.

Welcome to Woodys World, Matt!


The Great Bacon Odyssey: 01.  Bacon – Apple Fritters


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Woodys vision

african pork farmer

The woodys-team set out to create a company that will integrate  the pork industry through meaningful partnerships with key roll players in every aspect of the value chain – from the birth of the piglet, to the consumer buying a packet of bacon in a retail store, and by  implementing systems that facilitate these processes to deliver on its mission statement of the best quality products at the lowest possible price.

The result of this will be a better life for all through fully integrated partnerships and processes from the farmer to the consumer.

Woodys sets up contracts with key roll-players that utilise opportunities to overcome challenges that farmers and food processors may have in optimising their own production capacity.

We build relationship’s based on overwhelming and strategic mutual-benefits.

woodys product development

We link and manage the value chain through procedures and policies that integrate the business processes of the different roll-players.

We market a single brand to consumers, thus creating the demand that the overall process must supply.

The distribution channel, the consumers – ultimately everybody, benefits through quality products at low prices, done in a way that allows all steak holders to earn more money and be more productive.

Thus, the Woodys Vision is clear:

a better life for all through fully integrated partnerships and processes –  from the farmer to the consumer.

Woodys consumer

Appointment – National Sales Manager


Woodys Brands has recently made several changes to its management structure.

We appointed Willem Klynveld as National Sales Manager.

I asked Will to tell us a bit about himself.  What are some of the things that he keeps himself busy with?

I like travel, good food and red wine.   I exercise daily by running, playing squash and gym.   Touch Rugby is part of my life and I established a league in Potchefstroom in 2010. We had two social seasons with 100 plus participants per season.   I have done the 94,7 cycle challenge as well as a number of the Energade, ‘BSG Triathlons”.
Will started with us in November 2010 as Gauteng Area Manager when Checkers listed us and I wanted to know how he approached his work.
I have been passionate about development since the start.   The work gave me the opportunity to focus on my strong points.  My focus has been on implementing systems and to improve service levels through accurate information and communication has been taken serious.
Will showed himself right from the start as someone who is willing to get involved and to become all he can be inside the Woodys organisation.  He continues:
I have been incorporated into the mission control center of Woodys and am thankful that my contribution has been taken seriously.

I am busy with my  M. Comm Industrial Psychology. The opportunity is truly one in a million! Woody’s allows me to attend all classes and allows me time off to study without putting any pressure on me.   My script is on the impact of employees on individual and orginisational level i.t.o. productivity and “intention to leave” if the organisation allows employees to develop their strengths.

One assumption is that South Africa has the greatest potential on the level of the development of strengths and not on the improvement or correction of the negative.
The management team of Woodys is aware of each others strengths and weaknesses and we have allocated roles and responsibilities accordingly.
Will brings a high level of “systems and process thinking” to the sales department in an environment where the day-to-day sales function is outsourced to sales agencies and where the most important fact that drives sales is quality of product and supply and not traditional “salesmanship”.
This is how Will defines his role in this environment:
I have been appointed as National sales Manager.  Our agents share our commitment to management through accurate and timely information and effective communication in order to fulfill client needs.

I work with the sales and distributions agents in Natal, Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

My overall function is to provide lubrication for the gears of the operational machine.  These include returns, promotions, “brand development”, and training.   My goal is to optimise overall performance.
Will brings his values of quality, consistency, accuracy, independence and systems thinking to bear upon his area of responsibility.  As such, he will be the driving force at  the rock face of the Woodys quality systems and manage the entire Woodys process from the perspective of Warehousing and Distribution and Sales and Merchandising.
We wish him well in this challenge.

Eben’s postcards from the edge

I have the greatest job in the world.  I travel and I meet the most interesting people.  These are some of my stories.

Take last night for example.  On my way from Potchefstroom to the factory in Johannesburg.

En route I decide to go past the abattoir.  Rain is bucketing down.   I get lost for a good hour and a half trying a “shortcut”.  Almost write the rental car off on the slippery dirt road.  Make it to Ferdies abattoir – closed.


A buddy of mine, Jan Bernardo calls.  Invites me to join him and a few friends in Deneysville.  Jan and myself have been friends from primary school.  Our first school day he told me not to cry when my mom dropped me off and we have been friends ever since.


deneysville sundown

The road to Deneysville is super-shit!  I almost ran out of petrol and when I got to the Lake Avenue Inn, Jan and his friends are a few drinks ahead of me.  Everybody here has some connection to the pork industry.  So, we talk pigs!

deneysville outside pub

Serious “pork planning”  by farmers, equipment suppliers and “interested people”.  Or should I say – “interesting people!”.  Jan and kie decided its time to get in behind the drums.


The plan with the pigs now grows bigger and better.  We are on double whiskeys and ice.


I am long past the point of being able to drive.  I see too many lights and in between the squiggles I swear I can see a few pigs fly.  That’s when I decided to book into the hotel for the night.

This morning I see – this is paradise.  During breakfast I am taking calls from farmers in the area who wants to do business with us, referring to discussions we had the previous night.  My brain takes a while to boot up completely – finally its all clear.  A good cup of coffee helps.


I will have to be back in Deneysville a few more time to tie up the market!  I dont mind.  Its heaven!

Any farmer who wants a supply contract with Woody’s, or someone whom I spoke to and between last night and this morning forgot that I promised to call back, please talk to me.  Smile

At Woodys we make a habit of mixing business and pleasure!


Woodys Farms

Monday morning we spent the day on farms in the Boland.

I feel privileged to meet some of the greatest people on earth!

These “greatest people on earth” are great for two reasons.  They are “salt-of-the-earth” kind of characters.  With BRILLIANT plans!

They hold the key to the secret Woodys ingredient to the market!  We all LOVE secrets!

The next day I am in Vanderbijlpark with an old buddy of mine.  A farmer and an attorney.

I again see something that I have learned many years ago: real potent plans are never conceptualised in a boardroom, but at the rock face!  In the field!

Jan,  Abie,  Johan – you changed my entire view on the world of Woodys and what our “place in the sun” will look like in 5 years time!

We are who we are because of others!


Farmers who would like to supply Woodys can contact eben to discuss a supply contract on:



quality promise

A few weeks ago we received an email from a Woodys client on Facebook who challenged us about the quality of our products.

Since then we have been thinking about nothing else!  The full picture that emerged is again one that is not confined to Woody’s, but permeates every aspect of my life.

The central question is this:  what is the value of our promises?

Personally.  How much do I value promises that I make.  These promises form the basis of contracts.  I’m not saying that contracts cant be changed.  They can, but it should be a process that is undertaken with the greatest care and attention.

I realised that the Woodys promise is good and safe food at low prices. This is more than  a company vision statement.  Its a contract with the consumers.

The contract with consumers must find tangible expression in contracts we have with with every member of the Woodys value chain where we demand that collectively we are able to deliver on the collective contract we have with consumers.

We are re-working every contract we have with our farmers, food processors and sales and distribution agents to this end.  We are appointing an external auditing company to assist us in drawing up our procedures and then audit us regularly to ensure compliance on every level.

We will deliver on the promise we make.

Woody’s Bacon

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James Klynveld – Iron Man

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Woodys supports extreme sport and James Klynveld!


Woodys at Iron Man 2011

James is a Quantative Analyst at Nedbank Capital.    He lives in Emmarentia, Johannesburg and did his first Iron Man in 2008.  He is 25 years old and loves any extreme sport.  He also competes in mountain biking.

James is again competing in the Spec Savers 70.3 Iron Man this year.  He completed the last round in 05:52:48.

Swim 00:37:05

Cycle  03:21:12

Run 01:54:29

Good luck James and please keep us posted of any future events.

Here are a few of his pic’s:

Well done James!!

Running or walking? :-))

jou ou yster!

Woodys sponsored Iron Man 4 the Kidz.



Post sponsored by:
Woody’s Consumer Brands (Pty) Ltd

how it happened

January 2, 2011 2 comments

19 March 2010

Between 2006 and 2008 Eben was living in Johannesburg,  South Africa and worked as the Depot Manager for Goosebumps Food Logistic’s.

At the end of 2008 he resigned.

The company MD (CEO), Hans Kakebeeke did not accept my resignation and made him a generous offer.  Between his partner, Cilliers Viljoen and him, they offered to continue to pay him a salary to develop the many ideas he had around the processed meats industry.

It allowed him to experimented with many different new products which he manufactured, packaged and test-marketed.

Testing products in deep rural Africa

Processed Meats Across Africa.

Every morning Hans and Eben met and shared thoughts around processed meats and the food industry in general.  These were followed by testing, many trials and in-store tests across the country.

Testing with consumers

Testing in rural African supermarkets

a very tired eben

The picture above was taken one evening in Johannesburg after a particularly trying day of tests in the market.

Eben was exhausted but satisfied that they were creating something unique.  A few products started to stand out as clear front runners in our search for the right products to build the business on!

packing the results and testing with consumers

developing concepts

Many of the tests were astoundingly successes.  It gave him a lifetime of product ideas.

They had some spectacular failures as well.  Most notably was their attempt to sell  bacon in a frozen format.

Bacon started out as one of many products we sold under various brands.

Between August and December 2008 Eben developed a new bacon brand.  Carina Lochner, a designer from Somerset West gave him a list of suggested brand names she came up with.

Hans and Eben liked Woodys and the brand was born.

Cilliers insisted that products be sold frozen to minimize the returns-factor.  This lead to their attempt to sell frozen bacon in retail stores.

Woodys Frozen Bacon

The frozen bacon project was a magnificent failure.

It left them with a semi-viable product in Woody’s bacon.

It was at this point when Hans and Cilliers appointed a new sales director for their company.  Hannes Hotarek, a master baker from Austria, did not like the diversion that the bacon caused in the business.  The performance of the frozen bacon was also so dismal that he motivated his position to the owners to can the processed meats project.

Hans and Cilliers suggested that Eben  buy the brand from them which he promptly did.

Almost a year after he originally resigned from Goosebumps, he was on his own with his own bacon brand and a world of possibilities.

Join our Facebook fan Page on www.woodysbacon.com

Woody’s Bacon

2011 is at hand

The Woodys idea was created between August and December 2008.  Production started in February 2009 in Cape Town.

Woodys Brands was created in January 2010 in Potchefstroom to trade the Woodys products. The implementations team held its inaugural meeting on 5 February 2010 at the Palazzo Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg.

A top class corporate consultant in the person of Sophia Krone facilitated.  Eben, Oscar and two other original team members were present.

Its old years eve.  Tristan and I are alone in Cape Town tonight and I cant help but to reflect on an amazing year.  It strikes me that the two main points that Sophias put on the table at the Palazzo Hotel, has remained the focus of every thing we did for the entire year.

The one has been building capacity to materialise our goal of becoming the largest supplier of bacon in South Africa.

This has been at the forefront of Oscar, Eben and Anton’s efforts for the entire 2010.  At the close of 2010, we are confident that we have partners in production of pigs and processing that are unique in their class!  They are all legends in the industry and they will provide the capacity required to achieve these lofty goals.

The second point that was put on the table was what team members expect from each other and what contribution are brought to the table.

Again, this point has been on the table since 4 February 2010 and since then with robust internal discussions.  If someone does not contribute materially, there is no place on the team.

In the end, the remaining team members are Eben, Oscar and Anton.  Friendships have been challenged to breaking point, but the discussion has been direct and to the point.  Exactly the way we approached it that first afternoon with Sophia.

The team has not just been consolidated, but also enlarged with our new production and processing partners.

The team has been even further enlarged to make national Sales & Merchandising and Warehousing & Distribution possible.

Every team member ranks as “best in class” in their field per region and this year has been about building an excellent national team.

We wish to again thank every team members for their input and what each person brings to the table.

It has not just been about creating a winning team, but by internal processes as well.

These internal processes have been developed and are still being developed and refined to create a team that works together!

Communication in the team remains robust and productive with each team member setting high personal and corporate goals.

This has also not been done in isolation.  Every team members contributed to the process and tonight we thank each one of you for the input and the commitment to the processes that has been put in place.

This year we also appointed a new regional manager.  Our two regional managers are making key contributions.  Thank you guys!

The team not only includes the people that we mentioned above, but also suppliers of various goods and services. Our thanks goes out to every one of you!

Finally and most importantly we wish to thank our consumers who continue to buy our products and to supply us with valuable feedback on a regular basis.

We wish every Woodys Team member and every client a great 2011!

The success that is at our fingertips are in the hands of every team member.

May the achievements of 2010 and achieving the goals of 2011 translate into a more and more tangible rewards for you and your loved ones!

Woody's Bacon

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Christmas Gammon

December 24, 2010 Leave a comment

2010 has been a good year.

We get ready to prepare the family gammon.

A gammon is cut from the pork leg and this year we have it wood-smoked, pickled and wrapped in a net.

Before we boil it, we let it sit in fresh water for 4 hours to remove as much of the pickle salt as possible.

We cut onions and potato to go into the pot with the gammon.

For the kids its an adventure!  This year its THEIR gammon!

We add 3 liters of pure apple juice which we bring to a boil and then let it simmer for three hours.

We prod it with a steel needle to see it its tender all the way through.  If its still rubbery, we leave it on for another half an hour.

While its simmering, we get going on the glaze.

The glaze is a mix of pineapple which we crush by hand, honey, red wine and butter.

After its all mixed together, we are ready for the final stage.  Tristan checks again if its tender all the way through.  It is and we enter the home stretch.

I remove the netting.

Glaze it with our concoction and sticks it in the oven at 180 deg C for a further 3 hours.  We remove it every 15 minutes to glaze it again.

Tomorrow we will decorate it with cherries and pieces of pineapple that will be stuck into it with toothpicks.

There we have our Christmas gammon.

We thank every consumer for the support during 2010.  Every service provider.  Every supplier.

Christmas is a special time for friends and family to be together.  We value the many friends and family members that were added to our family this past year.

Tomorrow is Christmas.  We will have our Gammon, wine, apple source, roast chicken and vegetables.  We will remember our friends and family and drink a toast to you.  Wherever you may be in the world.

Have a merry Christmas everybody!

Woody's Bacon

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Woody's Bacon

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woodys determination

when i was 16 i took an empty medicine bottle and in a private ceremony i took “cant-be-done” and stuffed it in the bottle.  I sealed the bottle and labeled it:  “can’t-be-done-lives-here”.

I hung it above my desk at home for a month so that I can look at it every day and never-ever forget that “cant-be-done” will never exist in my life!

one morning i buried it outside in the garden in a funeral ceremony.  It was dead.

and it never came back to life.

i had a professor who challenged me to believe I can do the impossible.

I chose to surround myself with people who do the exceptional:

and i REFUSE to think of anything ordinary!

my dreams are bigger than life!  My Woody’s brand is going to define marketing!  My love, I am giving to the most amazing woman on earth!  My story is honest and every word is true!

Woody Bolt

International and local trends

Innovative meat products

June 2011

According to Netherlands-based new products research company Innova, SA was among the top 15 countries for a number of new meat product launches in the second half of 2010 (ended December), coming in at seventh place.

This proves – if any proof was needed – that SA is a carnivorous country.

Assessing the “positioning” of the top 15 launches, they were described as (in order of number of launches):

no additives/preservatives;
low-fat; ethical;
indulgent and premium;
seasonal products; and
co-branding products.

Being an international survey, health-related launches featured prominently (probably much more prominently than they would in SA) – among them were products emphasizing omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and lower-sodium products.

Among new products was Tillman’s Toast Me! From Britain – two bacon and egg breakfast snacks for the toaster. Not noticeably healthy! This product is described as “tender pieces of bacon with scrambled egg in a crispy breadcrumb coating, ready for your toaster (obviously, after removing it from the package).”

There were also a number of launches of children’s products, particularly in Eastern Europe and Argentina.

As usual, ready-to-eat products were prominent. The study singled out corned meat from SA as an example of ready-to-eat meat.

In consumer advertising, Innova particularly selected out a US company, BallPark, for a striking promotion.

But for all the innovations, processed meat remained full of non-meat ingredients.

The top 15 ingredients in new launches during the period were, in order:

sodium nitrite;
sodium ascorbate;
vitamin C;
stabiliser (not specified);
ascorbic acid;
soy; and

Among packaging performers, the top 10 packaging types, in order, were:

film-wrapped tray;
vacuum pack;
plastic bag;
polystyrene trays;
plastic container;
plastic wrapper;
cardboard box; and

Looking to the future, Innova says:
* On positioning: “Meat products can be fortified with essential vitamins and minerals to increase their overall nutritional value and to also cater to the differing health needs of various age groups. This differentiation and increased choice will be preferred by consumers.”

* On ingredients and flavours: “Products with more premium ingredients claims will be the big trend. Nuts and sophisticated herb-and-spice combinations will become more common. There will be increased specification of free range meat, and the farm where the meat was sourced from, as supply transparency becomes of greater importance to the consumer.”

* On packaging: “Easy-open tubs, separate-portion packs for freshness, resealable packs etc, are all current packaging trends. Bacteria sensors on packaging will be a welcome innovation to decrease the risk of consuming meat that is not fresh.” – Teigue Payne

Innova’s representative in SA is In Essence; contact Rosie Maguire: Tel 021-790-5097 or 082-443-6303; rosie@inessence.co.za


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