Looks good, but is it boerie?

This month, award-winning consumer journalist Wendy Knowler gives you something to talk about around the braai.

Here’s a top tip in a time when we celebrate our collective heritage over a braai: The labelling of wors has nothing to do with a butcher’s whim – there’s a world of difference between boerewors and braaiwors, both terms being strictly regulated.

By law, boerewors must have a meat content – beef with lamb, pork or a mixture of the two – of no less than 90%, and a fat content of no more than 30%.

It may not contain any offal, except in the casing, and absolutely no mechanically recovered meat, which is a not-so-yum mixture of pulped muscular tissue, collagen, marrow and fat.


The only permitted additives are cereal products or starch, vinegar, spices, herbs, salt “or other harmless flavourants”, permitted food additives and water.

If you see the word “braaiwors” on a pack, at an apparently good price, don’t assume you’re getting a boerie bargain – it’s called braaiwors instead of boerewors because it’s a lot less meaty. Legally, braaiwors may contain up to 40% soya.

The industry calls this “extension”, and what it means is that the wors is a lot less meaty, hence the lower price.

If you want the best wors, go for the boerie.