In Depth

More than 20% of meat contains wrong animal, watchdog finds

Products from three supermarkets among more than 140 items that tested positive for undeclared animal flesh

More than a fifth of samples of meat products tested by the UK’s food watchdog contained the DNA of animals not mentioned on the label, it has emerged.

In one case, “a product described as ostrich meat was made up entirely of beef”, reports The Times.

Lamb “was most likely to contain the DNA of other animals, followed by beef and goat”, the newspaper adds.

The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that 145 items out of 665 that it sampled in 2017 consisted partly or wholly of unspecified meat.

In total, 73 of the contaminated samples came from retailers - including three supermarkets. A further 50 came from restaurants, while 22 originated from manufacturing or food processing plants.

The FSA said the results, accessed under a freedom of information request by the BBC, were consistent with “deliberate inclusion”.

Mincemeat, kebabs and restaurant curries were the most commonly mislabelled products.

Even small proportions of pork in other meat produce “is likely to worry Muslim and Jewish shoppers, who avoid the meat for religious reasons”, says The Times.

Responding to the news of pork being found in meat sold as lamb, kosher agency the Kashrut Division London Beth Din (KLBD) said there was “a lack of transparency” in some parts of the food industry.

Campaign group Compassion in World Farming told the BBC that untraceable ingredients made it hard for animal welfare to be “part of consumers’ shopping decisions”.

A Food Standards Agency spokesman said: “These figures are from local authorities who carry out sampling programmes which are designed to focus on specific food businesses types where meat substitution is more likely to occur. The number of unsatisfactory samples is a result of this targeted approach where businesses which don’t comply are sampled multiple times, and the figures are not representative of the wider food industry.”

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