Food Law News - UK - 2013

FSA News Item, 26 March 2013

MEAT - Updated results of FSA UK-wide survey of beef products

Further test results from the first two phases of the FSA’s UK-wide sampling programme of beef products have now been confirmed. The results show 352 out of 362* samples were negative for the presence of both horse and pig DNA.

Of the remaining 10 samples, three were confirmed as containing pig DNA at or above the 1% threshold, as identified in our statement on 8 March. The three products were ASDA Spaghetti and Meatballs; ASDA Beef Cannelloni; and Apetito Beef Lasagne.

A further two, a Whitbread burger and IKEA meatballs, have now been confirmed as containing horse DNA at or above the 1% threshold. Both of these products have been previously reported by the food industry’s own results and are already included in the table on the FSA’s website.

The results of the last five samples are being challenged and awaiting the outcome of further independent tests. If the products are found to be positive for contamination above the 1% threshold, the results will be reported on the FSA website.

Confirmed test results from the first two phases of the FSA’s UK-wide sampling programme of beef products   Negative Positive In dispute

The purpose of the sampling programme is to get an accurate picture of the potential scale of contamination of beef products on high streets and in the catering supply chain across the UK.

The findings of the survey, carried out by 28 local authorities on behalf of the FSA, are consistent with those from the tests carried out by the food industry. The results confirm that the contamination and adulteration of beef products, with horse or pork meat, has been limited to a relatively small number of products.

The FSA's view remains that consumers should be able to trust what they see on food labels and the Agency is working with the local authorities where positive samples have been identified, with a view to taking enforcement action where necessary.

*A total of 364 samples were originally taken as part of the survey. However, two samples failed to meet the criteria outlined in the sampling protocol and have therefore been discounted.

What happens if there is a dispute?

Enforcement officers followed a formal sampling protocol designed to ensure consistency across the 28 UK local authorities involved and the possibility of enforcement action where contamination was confirmed.

Each sample comprises three parts: one sent for testing by a Public Analyst; the second given to the food business where the sample was purchased and the remaining part is retained by the local authority in case of a dispute.

Where test results are disputed by the food business or manufacturer, the third sample may be sent for independent analysis by agreement between the local authority and the food business.

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