Probe reveals alarming meat fraud levels in UK

More than a fifth of meat samples from three UK countries found DNA from animals not on the label. 

Out of 665 samples checked in 2017 from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found 145 were partly or completely made up of unspecified meat. Of the 145 contaminated meat samples, 77 of them were lamb, followed by 29 beef, 19 goat, 18 pork/ham and 1 of each duck and ostrich, says a BBC investigation carried out under the Freedom of Information act.

The samples came from 487 businesses, from restaurants to supermarkets. 73 of the contaminated samples came from retailers, including three supermarkets. 50 came from restaurants, while the remaining 22 came from processing plants.

The results showed that some samples contained no traces of the meat that was on the product label, while others contained DNA from multiple animals, as many as four in some cases.

Cow DNA was the most commonly-found contaminant, followed by pig, chicken, sheep and turkey in that order. Minced meat was the most commonly mis-labelled product, while sausages, kebabs and restaurant curries were also amongst the top offenders.

DNA from other animals could have been present in some samples, but may not have been identified through the selected tests. The FSA says that the inclusion of DNA at a proportion of 1 per cent or greater gives a measure of what it considers to be cases of “deliberate inclusion.”

A spokesperson of the FSA told the BBC it was up to the relevant local authorities, who sent them the results of the samples, to lead individual investigations and take appropriate action, such as prosecutions, and added that the results are “not representative of the wider food industry.” The report points out however that food sampling is on the wane among local authorities in light of funding cuts, with fewer than half submitting data to the Food Surveillance System last year.

This latest data comes five years after the horsemeat scandal in 2013, where processed beef products sold by supermarket chains in the UK were found to contain horse DNA, and suggests all is still not right with UK supply chain.

Earlier this year the FSA investigated claims that traces of meat have been found in vegan and vegetarian products sold under Tesco and Sainsbury’s own brands.

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