Beware the Salchichon!

Beware the Salchichon!

Many have heard of hamburger thyrotoxicosis. Well, the Spanish have their own version...

BMJ Case Rep. 2012 Aug 18;2012. pii: bcr2012006260. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2012-006260.

Intermittent and recurrent episodes of subclinical hypothyroidism, central hypothyroidism and T3-toxicosis in an elderly woman.

Megías MC, Iglesias P, Villanueva MG, Díez JJ.


Department of Endocrinology, University Hospital Ramon y Cajal, Madrid, Spain.


Exogenous thyrotoxicosis is usually caused by ingestion of excessive amounts of thyroid hormone, which could be intentional or surreptitious (known as factitious thyrotoxicosis). Non-pharmacological exogenous thyrotoxicosis is an exceptional event. One example is alimentary thyrotoxicosis, which is caused by the ingestion of meat or sausage containing thyroid tissue, inadvertently mixed with traces of muscles and other tissues of the animal's neck (hamburger thyrotoxicosis). We report for the first time a patient who had recurrent episodes of triiodothyronine (T3) toxicosis for several years due to inadvertent chronic consumption of contaminated traditional Spanish cold meat with porcine thyroid.



Hasta la vista


Image is of Iberico Bellota Salchichon - though I have no idea which type of Spanish sausage was involved.

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13 Replies

  • I'd buy some nom nom! :D

    It won't happen over here as the abbatoirs remove all offal & vets check they do - we had half a piggy at Xmas for the family (hubby used to be a butcher and likes to keep his hand in) it included the head but I checked the neck & no glands :( There was a kidney but it had been removed & checked. J :D

  • Good to hear that from someone who knows.

    How about things like rabbits which are often paunched and consumed with little ceremony and certainly no veterinary involvement? Mind, a rabbit's thyroid doesn't sound as if it would be substantial...

    And I have to suspect that this story actually occurred way out in the back of beyond where they slaughter a pig every few months and stash much away in the form of sausage. Hence subject to little supervision.


  • Yes I suspect a lot of DIY slaughtering still goes on abroad, cheek meat is a delicacy & of course nothing's wasted. Years ago, Dad would occasionally 'sort out' a sheep with a broken leg for example. The rabbit meat was kept - but the lites etc. went for the ferret!

    Makes me wonder why wild animals go for the neck? apart from being the most vulnerable part, it is also their first preference to eat.

  • Is that actually why I feel better in Spain?! :)

  • Spain = Sunshine vitamin??????

  • So that's what I'm doing wrong. If I want to stop gaining weight I should eat more sausages :D Oh, if only it were that easy to get your daily dose of T3... <sighs>

  • o.m.giddy whatsits...a eurika moment...must have been all those dodgy faggots I ate that made me factitious years ago!

    Now lets get back to antibiotics in beef...oh and human excrement on spanish lettuce.

    I ate lites as a was intended for the dog but I often had a nibble before they got in her bowl. (Is it lungs or what..cant remember).

    Very interesting article great that you are able to find these gems on web.


  • Well... spending a lot of time in Bulgaria.. where in the villages, twice a year you slow roast an entire pig in a specially built oven... each house, does have a clay oven that size... I have noticed that since I started trying to speak the language... the old ladies in our particular village clasp me and hug me tightly in a hold normally reserved for piggy before these fateful celebrations. All I said was, how pretty everything is and how nice the weather is! Mary F x

  • Wow, that was interesting!

    I'm half Spanish and have never heard of that happening before, and all my family over there eat loads of chorizo etc


  • I had never heard or even thought about that!! this maybe a stupid question but what about milk and butter or anything derived from an animal - is everything screened to such a degree that we don't have to worry, or not.......?

  • There will, of course, be absolutely tiny amounts of thyroid hormone distributed throughout any animal. (Actually, any animal with a backbone and maybe some more.) But at the level of utter insignificance. After all most of the thyroid hormone in any animal is either in the thyroid or in the blood (as bound hormone).

    It really is only the thyroid itself, plus material immediately surrounding it which could have become 'contaminated'.

    Dairy products do tend to have relatively high levels of iodine - but nothing to worry about in most people - only if you consume very large amounts or are on a strictly low iodine diet for medical reasons. And some of that iodine might still come from iodine-based teat disinfectants.

    In summary, don't worry. I don't. :-)


  • Thank you for that - one could probably go completely round the twist looking at everything that we consume/touch/absorb!!

  • Yes I've heard of hamburger thyrotoxicity via my endo - his explanation of my elevated ft4 whilst taking Nutri Thyroid - but hadn't heard of this before. Mmm fancying a nice bit of tapas for my tea! :)

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