What Is Polony Made From?

Polony is a South African bologna product made from fat, salt and a composite meat paste called pink slime. Traditional polony is dyed bright pink and is a popular sandwich meat. Due to its low cost, polony is one of the few deli meats accessible to South Africa’s poor.

According to The Butcher, South Africans also use the term “polony” for any deli meat in the bologna family. These meats include Lebanon bologna, rag bologna, German bologna and kosher/halal bologna. German bologna contains more spices than the standard recipe and has a strong garlic flavor. Its South African analogue is called garlic polony. Unlike other bolognas, quality German polony contains no nitrates and is therefore beige, not pink.

Another meat similar to polony is rag bologna, which originated in Tennessee. Like polony, rag bologna has high levels of gristle, fat and fillers such as flour and ground oats. It is called “rag” bologna because of its cloth packaging. It is popular as a sandwich meat and frequently appears on the breakfast table.

Kosher/halal polony is an important dietary staple among poor Muslims in and around South Africa. This type of polony conforms to Jewish and Islamic dietary regulations. Its ingredients include any combination of beef, lamb, chicken and turkey. Some brands contain only beef.