Water Meat

Reporter: Josh Fajzullin

Rosemary and garlic leg of lamb; honey mustard chicken fillets' pork tender rib roast -- they sound good but they'll cost you too.

But what are you really paying for? A chook costs $10, $7.70 is sucked up in moisture costs. Spend $14.99 a kilo for a pork roast, $10.95 goes towards water. It says you get $16 of lamb but the truth is $12 worth is water.

Clever marketing by retailers are tricking you into paying a premium for marinated meats when really, all you're getting is extra salt. water and a few cents worth of herbs and spices. For them it costs next to nothing but for us, it's costing everything -- The bulk of your dollar is spent on water.

Choice Magazine's Christopher Zinn says, "There's no doubt when you buy these pre-wrapped products look and see what the actual meat content is. Sometimes it's much less than you think".

We've shown in the past how dodgy butchers use tricks to sell off old or cheap meat by pumping them full of water and flavour enhancers, turning some times inedible cuts -- only good for mince or pet food -- into something you'd contemplate cooking on the barbie.

We've tested 40 samples of meat for moisture content, salt and how much actual meat you get for every dollar you spend. Marinated versus unmarinated from Coles, Woolies, Aldi and two smaller chicken retailers.

At Aldi a whole chicken costs you $3.99 a kilo. 67% of the product is moisture, meaning you'll pay roughly $2.60 a kilo for water.

It's marinated and microwaveable cousin costs $2 extra a kilo ($5.99/kg). 72% of the product is moisture meaning you'll pay $4.30 a kilo for water. Roughly 27% is meat and bone -- yet on the packet it states its 88% chicken.

At Woolies a whole chook costs $5.99 a kilo. About 69% of your dollar goes to moisture, that's $4.10 per kilo for water.

With the smoked whole chicken you'll pay an extra $3 a kilo and you'll get more moisture, 71%, $8.50 going towards water. The packet says it's 96% chicken.

Clearly foghorn leghorn has reduced down to chicken little.

In the pork stakes it's the very opposite when it comes to moisture content. In the marinades, Woolies rolled pork seasoning costs $13.99 a kilo, $8.95 a kilo for water; while the un-marinated pork mini roast is $14.99 a kilo and you're paying $10.99 a kilo for water.

To lamb and Woolworths un-marinated leg of lamb cost us around $18. 68% is moisture meaning you'll pay $12 just for water.

Aldi's leg of lamb had the most meat. 51% moisture content, 49% meat and bone. However it could very well be the driest meat.

Coles Mediterranean chook had almost 19 times more salt than the un-marinated whole chicken, while Woolies marinated pork tender roast had almost 15 times more salt than the pork mini roast.

While we all want our meat moist and tender we don't want to have to pay over the odds for added water. The cost of making a marinade yourself is negligible and chef Alastair McLeod says you can use staples from your pantry. "Sugar, rice wine vinegar, light soy sauce, grape seed oil -- grape seed oil is like the United Nations its just neutral -- sesame oil is quite turbo charged and then some chilli and some garlic and ginger", he said.

In minutes he's whipped up a chicken marinade that could last for a weeK and 20 serves.

And be careful of being tempted to go for the other easy option -- marinade in a bottle. Taking a look at five of the most popular, only one fell under your recommended daily salt intake of 2000 milligrams per 100 grams.

"If you're looking at the soy one, it's got 7000 milograms which is three times the recommended amount", said dietitian Julie Gilbert.

Julie says those with high blood pressure are at most risk. "If you've actually got high blood pressure already, you increase the risk of you having a heart attack", she said.

Doing it yourself is safer and cheaper.



ALDI marinates a number of meat products, which add value for our customers. Marinated products offer greater convenience and enjoyment, but there is a cost associated. This is why our marinated meat products have a higher price point than our non-marinated meat products


We are proud of the quality and value of our line of marinated fresh meats which have proved extremely popular with our customers looking for a quick way to make a tasty roast.

Woolworths fresh standard meat cuts have nothing added and contain only the water which naturally occurs within the meat. As marinades are a liquid any product containing them, such as our marinated fresh meat range, will have a higher level of water than a standard cut of meat.

There is an extra cost involved in making ready marinated meat and this is reflected in the shelf price.

If our customers would prefer to make their own marinated meats we have all the ingredients needed, including fresh standard meat cuts, or they can buy a ready made marinade off the shelf.

The ingredients within our marinated meats are clearly labelled on the packaging. Any suggestion that meat near its sell by date could be marinated for quick sale does not not happen at Woolworths.

Woolworths Limited

Lenard's Pty Ltd

Lenard's has an extensive range of value-added chicken products that includes a range of marinated products plus many more. All Lenard's value-added products are made fresh in store daily from poultry delivered by Australia's leading poultry suppliers (e.g. Ingham and Steggles). Our value-added range is the primary focus of our business and is made from fresh poultry specifically ordered for sale within 3 days. We also carry a range of fresh poultry cuts (e.g. breast fillets) that are sold at competitive market prices. Lenard's sources high quality ingredients for all its value-added range to ensure the quality of our finished products meet with our customers' expectations. Lenard's has built an unsurpassed reputation over the last 23 years of delivering value for money, high quality ready-to-cook poultry products that deliver tasty and convenient meal solutions for today's busy households.


"Marinated meat and poultry is an increasingly popular choice for customers looking for convenience. There are some additional costs associated with producing these products such as extra processing or added herbs and spices which is sometimes reflected in the prices customers pay.

"The testing carried out for Today tonight has not taken into account the natural moisture contained in fresh meat which in the case of chicken is approximately 70% of the product. This moisture is a natural part of the muscle of the meat and is not added by any form of processing. It is therefore wrong to suggest that it can somehow be separated out in the ingredients. Any added salt for flavouring or water which is sometimes added to make up for the moisture lost in the marinating or cooking process, is clearly labelled as required by food labelling laws."

Chef Alastair McLeod