Tests reveal unlabelled species in meat products

More than six years after the horsesmeat scandal, samples taken by local authorities have found contamination of one in five meat products with species not on the label.

An investigation by The Mirror found that foods sold by retailers, restaurants and caterers contained meat products that were not properly labelled including lamb doner kebabs without a trace of lamb.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) collated information sent in after local authorities carried out 69 tests between June 2018 and May 2019 and found 12 items were contaminated with “unspecified meat or DNA species not declared on the label”.

The FSA said the tests were carried out as part of a targeted sampling programme and contamination was likely to be a result of mislabelling rather than deliberate adulteration.

The tests also revealed ham that contained no ham, and pork sausages that also contained lamb and beef.

Which? strategic policy adviser Sue Davies told The Mirror: “It is concerning if, six years on from the horsemeat scandal, consumers are still being misled about meat they are eating. “The government and local authorities must clamp down on food fraud.”

It is hard to know just how widespread mislabelling or deliberate adulteration of food products is. Simon Blackburn from the Local Government Association said that local authority budget cuts and the ending of dedicated FSA funding for food sampling had made it difficult for councils to maintain sampling levels.

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