Meat in veggie food: is all still not right with UK supply chain?

The UK’s Food Standards Agency will investigate claims that traces of meat have been found in vegan and vegetarian products sold under Tesco and Sainsbury’s own brands.

The investigation follows a probe by the Daily Telegraph, which sent 10 Tesco and Sainsbury’s meat-free products to a laboratory to be tested. Traces of meat were found in two of the products.

The results revealed that Sainsbury’s own brand “meat free” meatballs contained traces of pork, while Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen vegan macaroni ready meal had traces of turkey.   

There is no suggestion that any fraud has taken place, however the laboratory findings show there are still issues with the UK’s food supply chain – even five years after the horsemeat scandal – which will raise concerns.

Furthermore, the meat-free food sector is growing – 3.5 million people in the UK are vegan or vegetarian – putting pressure on the supply chain to meet demand.  

According to the laboratory, the whole animal DNA found would suggest that the product contained meat or animal skin but noted it could also come from the presence of gelatine or oil.

The FSA told the Telegraph: “Our priority is to ensure consumers can be confident that the food they eat is safe and is what it says it is. We are investigating the circumstances surrounding these alleged incidents and any resulting action will depend upon the evidence found.”

Both supermarkets have launched their own investigations off the back of the newspaper’s findings, although they said that their own preliminary DNA analysis showed no discrepancies. However, Tesco admitted to the Telegraph that the Wicked Kitchen range was made in a factory that also handled meat.

In a statement, Tesco said: “We take the quality and integrity of our products extremely seriously and understand that our vegan and vegetarian products should be exactly that.”

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s, whose product has been awarded the Vegetarian Society logo as trusted by vegans and vegetarians, stated: “We are concerned by these findings and are carrying out a comprehensive investigation alongside our supplier.” Sainsbury’s declined to reveal the supplier’s name or location.

Tony Lewis, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, told the Telegraph the findings were a concern. “If you’re starting to find stuff in food that shouldn’t be there, the question is what else is in there? This is potentially a much wider issue.”

He added: “I would have expected Sainsbury’s to have high standards, so if they have a problem you have to question who else has a problem. Other retailers will likely be using the same factory and could also be affected.”

Jewish and Muslim groups, who don’t eat some meat products for religious reasons, have called for the affected items to be recalled.

The Telegraph had originally requested UK organisations to carry out the laboratory tests but they declined, with one refusing because of the “sensitive nature” of the inquiry.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top