Lamb takeaway? 40% of curries and kebabs contain other meat
Crackdown by Food Standards Agency after tests find some lamb dishes contain no lamb at all
TESTS on lamb takeaways found that two in five of them had been mixed with other meats, while some contained no lamb at all.
Consumer watchdog Which? carried out the tests on 60 takeaway lamb curries and minced lamb kebabs from Birmingham and London, and found that 24 of them were mixed with cheaper meats, such as beef and chicken. Seven of the samples contained no lamb at all and the meat in five samples could not be identified because it had been so highly processed.
The results have prompted the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to call for a new round of tests on lamb takeaways. Local authorities are being asked to test 300 samples, starting at the beginning of May. Takeaway owners are also being warned they could face fines of up to £5,000 for mislabelling food, reports the BBC.
FSA's chief operating officer, Andrew Rhodes, described the substitution of lamb for cheaper meats as "unacceptable" and said the agency was working closely with local authorities to "ensure robust action is taken against any businesses misleading their customers".
The Which? tests follow an FSA review of similar tests last year, which showed that 43 out of 145 samples of lamb takeaway meals contained meat other than lamb, including chicken, beef and turkey. In 25 samples, the meat was entirely beef.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said he was shocked by the level of fraud uncovered. "The government, local authorities and the FSA need to take tougher action to crack down on offenders. This is vital to restoring trust in the industry," he said.
However, the Trading Standards Institute says that by 2016 budgets to detect food fraud will have been reduced by an average of 40 per cent from 2010 levels.
The new findings add to growing concerns about the seemingly widespread mislabelling of meat. Last year, food inspectors announced they had found traces of horsemeat in some frozen meat products stocked by UK supermarkets including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.