Sweden says counterfeit beef could be hazardous

Cutting meatSweden's National Food Agency (NFA) has issued a warning about adulterated pork that is being sold as beef, with potentially serious healthcare consequences.

The fake meat is dyed and shaped to resemble beef tenderloins, and is thought to have arrived in Sweden from Hungary and Argentina, although as yet the original source has not been identified.

The problem was brought to the attention of the NFA by restaurant wholesaler Svensk Cater after it received complaints from customers. The wholesaler had procured the beef from another company called Heat AB, and the NFA says it has now intercepted several tonnes of the material.

Aside from the possible direct toxicological danger from the chemicals used to colour the fake meat, the NFA is concerned that people may not cook it effectively, raising the risk of food poisoning or exposure to viral or parasitic infections.

Unlike beef which can be eaten rare, pork should be cooked thoroughly to make it safe for consumption.

An alert about the adulteration incident has been sent out via the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) in a bid to warn other food wholesalers to be on the lookout for the fake meat, and the NFA is working with the authorities in Hungary to try to identify its source.

The counterfeit meat can be hard to distinguish from the genuine article, particularly for people who are unaccustomed to dealing with food preparation.

However, the Swedish agency notes that the dyed pork has an uneven colour, with more red on the outer edges, and has smaller muscle fibres than beef.



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