A Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey of undeclared meat in lamb dishes from takeaway outlets found that 21% of samples showed “the presence of non-declared meat”, including one case where pork was found.
The FSA testing programme, which was prompted by evidence of “ongoing substitution of lamb for cheaper meats” involved local authority trading standards and environmental health officers in sampling 307 lamb dishes, such as curries and kebabs, sold from takeaway outlets. All were tested for the presence of undeclared species of meat. Dishes with sauces were also tested for undeclared allergens and the unauthorised use of additives.
Of the samples tested, 223 (73%) were fully compliant with food legislation, 65 samples (21%) failed because of the presence of non-declared meat, 12 samples (4%) tested positive for the presence of undeclared allergens, including peanut and almonds proteins, and 7 samples (2%) were non-compliant because of the unauthorised use of additives.
The samples that tested positive for undeclared meat showed the presence of beef, chicken, and in one sample pork. Of these samples, 23 had levels of undeclared meat species below 1% which is more likely to indicate poor handling during processing rather than potential adulteration.
Local authorities have followed up on all samples where problems were identified and relevant action was taken including, in a number of cases, prosecution.
“Consumers need to know that the food they buy is what it says on the menu or the label,” said FSA head of local delivery, John Barnes, adding that the FSA and local authorities remained “on the lookout” for deliberate meat substitution and would take action to protect local consumers and legitimate food businesses.