This comes after a BBC investigation found that more than a fifth of meat sample tests in 2017 found DNA of animals not labelled on the product.
It found that some samples contained DNA from as many as four different animals, while others had no trace of the animal the product was supposed to contain. The findings came from a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK.
In a statement, the FSA said that this set of figures was part of a series of tests aimed at businesses suspected of compliance issues.
“These figures are from local authorities that carry out sampling programmes designed to focus on specific food business types where meat substitution is more likely to occur,” said an FSA spokesman.
“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.
“Where problems are found, local authorities can consider appropriate action to protect customers and improve compliance, which may include a formal warning or taking enforcement action, such as prosecutions or cautions.”
Industry trade body, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) chief executive Nick Allen blasted those who purposely took part in these practices.
“BMPA is very disappointed to hear about any deliberate inclusion of non-declared meat in any meat products and we strongly condemn this behaviour and consider it unacceptable. We stress that these were targeted investigations, which means they were based on intelligence received by the FSA or local authorities and we are glad that the system works to identify these problems.
“Many companies in the meat industry work hard to avoid this happening to their products by doing species testing on a risk basis on material they buy in and on product when production lines change from one species of meat to another. Unfortunately, there are a small number rogue operators in the industry that seek to profit from deliberately substituting cheaper ingredients in their products. Often this kind of business will actively avoid involvement with organisations like BMPA and the food industry regulators.”
He added that “overall the system is working”.
“The British meat industry has some of the most rigorous quality standards in the world, and it continues to uncover the wrong-doers effectively. However, there is always room for improvement. What we would like to see is more funding to further increase the capabilities of Local Authorities and the FSA. We should also make sure that the 99.75 percent of companies that haven’t done anything wrong are not unfairly judged.”