Can you eat the casing on ring bologna?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat the casing on ring bologna?” and discuss what are the risks of eating the casing of ring bologna.

Can you eat the casing on ring bologna?

Yes, you can eat the casing on ring bologna, unless it is made of a cellulosic fibrous material. Ring bolognas are typically stuffed in beef casings. Beef rounds are the most common of all beef casings. Rounds are used for ring bologna, holsteiner, and mettwurst (2,3).

However, some bologna sausages are stuffed in cellulosic fibrous casings, which are inedible and therefore should be removed before eating.

Should I remove the casing of the bologna sausages?

No, you should not remove the sausages from their casings prior to cooking or after cooking them, unless the casing is a fibrous cellulosic material. Casings have the function of maintaining the shape and texture of the product while cooking and the property to retain flavor and moisture. 

As mentioned earlier in this article, bologna sausage is usually made with beef casings, which are edible and don’t need to be removed. This type of sausage can be also made with synthetic casings, usually composed of edible materials, such as collagen. 

Collagen casings are made from the gelatinous substance found in the connective tissue, bones and cartilage of all mammals. The substance is harvested from the animals and reconstructed in the form of a paper-like edible casing. 

Cellulose casings are made from solubilized cotton linters, the short fibers that adhere to cottonseed (3). Cellulosic fibrous casings should be removed prior to the sausage consumption, as they are inedible (7). 

Is the casing on ring bologna nutritious?

Sausage casings can be nutritious as long as they are edible and digestible. Some examples of these casings are natural casings made from intestines derived from pigs, sheep, and cattle.

Another example are casings produced from collagen. Collagen casings are composed of both fibrous and solubilized proteinaceous material that is extracted from hides, bones and connective tissue. In a few words, collagen is a polymer composed of animal protein.

These natural sausage casings are nutritious, thus they provide proteins. They help to maintain connective tissue health and mechanical properties of the skin (5).

What are the risks of eating the cellulosic casing off a sausage?

The casings of all sausages are in general safe to consume. However, some casings are made from inedible fibrous cellulose. 

The risk of eating the cellulosic fibrous casing of a sausage is to have a gastric obstruction. If you eat the fibrous inedible casing of a sausage, you should be aware of possible unusual symptoms. When eaten in small quantities, inedible foreign bodies do not cause any harm. However, when ingested in large quantities, they may signify a risk to health (8).

The process of producing fibrous casings involves extruding regenerated cellulose onto a paper base and shaping it into tubes. This results in a sturdy, non-edible casing that is suitable for enclosing large-sized items like bologna, poultry rolls, fermented sausages, and turkey hams. 

To prevent the release of moisture through the casing and the entry of oxygen, some casings are treated with an internal barrier made of a moisture/oxygen impermeable plastic (7).

Cellulose casings, synthetic polymer casings are indigestible and must be removed prior to consumption (6).

What are natural casings of bologna made of?

Natural casings are made from many parts of the animals. In the case of bologna sausage, it is generally made of beef rounds. Beef casings are derived from the entire length of the intestinal tract with beef bung caps (~2 yd), rounds (~35 yd), and middles (~9 yd) being the three most used casings (7). 

Similar to the hog, almost the entire beef gastrointestinal tract can be used. Beef rounds are the most common of all beef casings. Rounds are used for ring bologna, and mettwurst. Commercial sausage makers often use “sewedcasings.” 

Sewed casings are obtained from two natural casings that are slit, matched up, and stitched together. This increases the uniformity and strength of the casings. The intestines of sheep are used mainly for frankfurters and pork breakfast sausage (3).

What is a Bologna sausage?

The bologna sausage is a cooked and smoked type of sausage. It is cooked in the smoke house by gradually raising the smokehouse temperature to 165–170º F and cooked until an internal temperature of 150º F is reached. 

The product may be water cooked after smoking by placing the bologna in a water bath at 160–165º F and cooked until an internal temperature of 150º F is reached. 

After cooking, the bologna should be placed in a cold water bath or shower for 12 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature is reduced to 90–100º F. The finished product is then stored in refrigeration until used (2).

Other FAQs about Sausages that you may be interested in.

Can you eat summer sausage casing?

Can you eat summer sausage raw?

Can You Reheat Sausages?

What happens if you eat expired hot dogs?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat the casing on ring bologna?” and we discussed what are the risks of eating the casing of ring bologna.


  1. Mohan, A. Basics of sausage making, formulation, processing & safety anand. UGA Extension, 2014, 1-48.
  2. Springmann, Marco, et al. Health-motivated taxes on red and processed meat: A modelling study on optimal tax levels and associated health impacts. PloS one, 2018, 13, e0204139.
  3. Ehr, I. J., et al. Home sausage making. Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut, USA. 2016, 2-13.  
  4. Hew, Carrie M., et al. Survival of Listeria monocytogenes in experimental chorizos. J food protect, 2005, 68, 324-330.
  5. Khatri, Mishti, et al. The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review. Amino acids, 2021, 53, 1493-1506..
  6. Suurs, Patricia, and Shai Barbut. Collagen use for co-extruded sausage casings–A review. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2020, 102, 91-101. 
  7. Keeton, Jimmy T. Formed and emulsion products. Poultry meat processing. CRC Press, 2000. 205-236.  
  8. Akrami, Majid, and Mohammad Reza Sasani. Dietary habits affect quality of life: bowel obstruction caused by phytobezoar. Iran J Public Health, 2016, 45, 1080.