A third of meat products on the shelves in supermarkets and shops could be misleadingly labelled, a new survey has found.
Foods such as sausages, mince and samosas, taken from the chillers of a number of outlets, were found to illegally contain meats the buyer would not expect to find in them.
The discovery is worrying for people avoiding certain meats for dietary or religious reasons, experts have warned.
Trading standards officers (TSOs) in the West Midlands bought and analysed more than 100 samples of meat products, checking the results against the ingredients listed on the packaging.
The results showed that 38 of 109 samples were ‘adulterated’, with minced lamb proving the most likely to contain rogue meat.
Testers found that Halal meat products were just as likely to be contaminated, but found no pork in any Halal meat analysed.
Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards, the body behind the undercover probe, has now warned businesses to stay within the law or face a fine of up to £20,000.
Staffordshire County Councillor Carol Dean, Cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: ‘Customers buying food rely on the labels and descriptions of the food made by the business.
‘An accurate description of the type of meat in a meat product provides information allowing customers to choose which product to purchase.
‘This is particularly important for customers who wish to avoid particular species of meat due to religious or dietary reasons.’
According to The Food Safety Act 1990 and the Meat Products (England) Regulations 2003, where a product is described by the name of a particular meat it must contain only the specified meat.
Beef mince must therefore contain only beef, and pork sausages must be made using just pork.
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