Update: Adulteration of meat products testing

By on 13/02/2013 in News

There has been considerable concern recently regarding the adulteration of meat products with undeclared meat ingredients, principally horsemeat and the presence of pork DNA.

Environmental Health has routinely carried out meat speciation testing on products made and sold in Birmingham.

To clarify, any adverse results will fall into two categories:

Deliberate adulteration where a cheaper meat species is used fraudulently for economic reasons.

Where traces of an undeclared meat are found – this is usually due to poor processing practices and poor cleaning.

In Birmingham, following the horsemeat/pork DNA contamination incident, all implicated products were removed from sale.

However, there is ongoing concern that similar contamination could have occurred in other brands and so Environmental Health have embarked on an extensive sampling exercise of burgers and similar products to test for the presence of undeclared meat species.

The Food Standards Agency called an urgent meeting of major retailers and distributors on 4th February to ensure all parties are aware of their responsibilities. This meeting resolved that a more extensive programme of testing will be carried out by the major retailers; at this stage publication of the results has not been confirmed. The FSA has also commissioned a national sampling exercise, testing products for the presence of undeclared meat ingredients, these results will be published.

Birmingham City Council Environmental Health will continue to work in partnership with the FSA and DEFRA in light of any further intelligence and the identification of further implicated products. Should sampling carried out in Birmingham produce any concerns this will be shared with the FSA to protect consumers in other areas too.

Cllr. Dring, Chair of the Licensing and Public Protection Committee said: “We are very concerned about the adulteration of meat products with horsemeat and other contamination, and the effect this is having on the public's trust in the food they eat. We have urgently increased our sampling of meat products in order to reassure residents and visitors to Birmingham, and will take whatever action is necessary to deal with unlawful practices.”

Q & A

  1. How many visits are planned?
    Early analysis suggests that up to 36 premises may be in scope as per the instruction form the Food Standards Agency (FSA)
  2. Will plants be given prior notice?
    No prior notice will be given.
  3. What will we be looking for?
    Investigations will follow the guidance issued by the FSA. and be reported using the standard proforma provided.
  4. Will tests be carried out on meat to check it is what it is claimed to be?
    Sampling will be carried out where inspections indicate concerns, as requested in the FSA guidance.
  5. When will we report back to the FSA?
    Feedback will be provided to the FSA as soon as possible after investigations have been concluded or sooner if significant findings are discovered.

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