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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Klement's Gluten-Free Overhaul

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Klement's Sausage Co. has given its pre-cooked sausage line a health-conscious makeover. The sausages are now free of gluten and monosodium glutamate (MSG), and most have no added nitrites or nitrates.

"This was a consumer-driven change," explains Jeff Klement, vice president of administration for the Milwaukee sausage company. "We've sat down and talked with customers and held some focus groups as a company over the years, and saw that there was a lot of interest in healthier products. In particular we had been getting a lot more requests for gluten-free products."

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and commonly used in processed foods as a thickener or stabilizing agent. The protein triggers intestinal inflammation and other adverse side effects in people with celiac disease, a condition that affects almost 1% of the U.S. population, and can cause milder digestive problems in people with gluten sensitivities.

Among the sausages offered in Klement's pre-cooked line are bratwursts, smoked brats, cheddar brats, Italian sausages, Polish sausages, jalapeno hot links and chorizo. The only sausage in the line that is not gluten free is the beer brat.

Klement says that removing the gluten and MSG hasn't affected the taste of the sausages, which are on sale now.

"We've already had a few people calling to thank us," Klement says. "The market has told us that there's really a need for this product. I think when you look at the food industry in general, you're seeing a big shift toward healthier and gluten-free foods."
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