What Does Bologna Contain?

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Bologna typically contains cured pork, beef or a mixture of both along with various herbs and spices. These might include ground black pepper, myrtle berries, nutmeg, allspice, celery seed and coriander. Mass-produced bologna is also likely to contain sweeteners, preservatives and bulking agents such as corn syrup, sodium nitrite and modified food starch used in many commercial sausage products.

Manufacturers tend to withhold the precise details of their spice combinations as a kind of trade secret, instead listing them together on the label as “spices.” As such, a number of different bologna products exist in the United States, each with their own distinct flavors. For instance, Lebanon bologna from Pennsylvania is variously described as sweeter or tangier than the standard.

The bologna sausage (often referred to colloquially as “baloney”) is named after the city of Bologna in Italy as an adaptation of the more traditional Italian mortadella. Mortadella is made using cured pork, cubed fat, cracked black pepper and sometimes also pistachio nuts. Unlike bologna in the U.S., however, which is required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be “comminuted” or very finely ground into a meat emulsion before shaping, the ingredients of mortadella sausage are all clearly visible in its cross-section.