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California sausage maker pleads guilty to misdemeanor

August 20, 2009 |  4:06 pm

Fans of a brand of chicken sausage manufactured in Northern California may have been chewing more fat than they thought they were getting.

Federal prosecutors in Sacramento this afternoon announced that Engelhart Gourmet Foods Inc. of Fairfield, Calif., pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of offering adulterated and misbranded poultry products for sale or transportation.

The company was sentenced to probation and a $50,000 fine by a U.S. magistrate.

Two Engelhart products -– Le Pique-Nique Chicken Linguisa with Fresh Garlic and White Wine and Le
Pique-Nique Lemon Chicken Sausage -– were originally made with only chicken thighs, said U.S. Atty. Lawrence G. Brown.

But after 2002, the company began using chicken skin, which is much higher in fat. Engelhart never relabeled the packages to show that the sausage’s fat content had jumped by 26%, Brown said.

Although both products were fit for human consumption, the increased fat level could have been unhealthful for consumers who need low-fat diets, Brown said.

-- Marc Lifsher