Mystery of steak and kidney pudding with no meat
Thursday 01 April 1999
Supermarkets were furious with the Government for "naming and shaming" the companies that were found, through DNA testing, to be selling incorrectly labelled food - but some privately ordered changes with their suppliers.
The survey by Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food inspectors found that one in seven samples of sausages, burgers, pies, pates and "recipe" dishes contained meat not declared on the label, while others did not contain the meat declared on the label.
Jeff Rooker, an Agriculture minister, said the findings showed clear failures in quality control by some of the big supermarket chains and corner shops. "A lot have said they didn't clean down the production lines properly. That is less serious than if someone is chucking in cheaper products, but it is bad in itself," he said.
Asda wrote to the ministry after inspectors found pork in eight Aberdeen Angus sausages labelled as containing beef at its store in South Bank, Leeds. Beef was also detected in two Scotch pies labelled as containing mutton and pork, and turkey was found in coarse chicken and bacon in red wine pate. The supermarket said: "From our investigations it is clear that these contaminations have been caused by insufficient attention to cleaning between the production lines."
But that did not explain the mystery of the missing ingredients in the steak and kidney pudding from Campbell Grocery Products in King's Lynn. The inspectors found no trace of beef or pork in the puddings.
Sainsbury's chicken breast in jelly was found to contain turkey, not chicken. Kwik Save economy chicken burgers contained turkey. Safeway's bolognese contained no beef, although beef was on the label. Tesco's smooth Brussels pork and liver pate contained pork, but also chicken and turkey.
J Sainsbury plc questioned the accuracy of the DNA tests. But Tesco wrote: "Mixing species remains a problem for the meat industry. We have again told our suppliers that this is unacceptable. We have formed a product integrity group to carry out unannounced audits of the meat and convenience food sector."
In a separate development, the cross-party Commons Select Committee studying the government Bill to set up a food standards agency called on the Government to scrap the flat-rate levy of pounds 90 on all Britain's 600,000 food outlets and replace it with a graduated levy.
The committee also called on the Government to give the agency a clearer remit over nutrition and dietary advice, in spite of ministers' misgivings about giving the agency too much power to interfere in food production. "We believe the agency should be the body responsible for setting the nutritional and dietary standards."
What Are You Buying?
DNA tests by Maff inspectors found the following ingredients in these products:
t Safeway Cumberland pork sausages contained chicken.
t Tesco Chicken and
Broccoli Potato Top contained turkey.
t Sainsbury Chicken Breast in Jelly contained turkey.
t Pork in Asda Aberdeen Angus beef sausages.
t Kwik Save economy chicken burgers contained turkey.
t Bernard Matthews cooked chicken breast contained turkey.
t Pork in Somerfield beef and onion pie.
t Campbell Grocery Products steak and kidney pudding contained no beef and no pigs' kidney.
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