One in eight salami products on sale in Britain contains horse meat, inspectors have found. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which made a survey in five local authorities, intends to widen its investigation amid fears that other products contain donkey meat.
Another study will establish exactly what went into the three brands found to contain the horse meat, an ingredient not listed on the label.
Twenty-four salami products from the five authorities were tested as part of an initial survey. Of the three products containing horse meat, two were made under the brand name L'Artibon, a Belgian company, and were found in a shop in Durham. The third, wild boar "salame", manufactured by the Italian company Bernardi Gastone, was bought from a wholesaler in Leeds.
While it is not illegal for products to contain horse meat, by law all the ingredients must be displayed on the label.
There is a market for horse meat in some European countries, but the agency says it is seen as socially unacceptable to many in the UK.
"I think some people would be very upset to find they had been eating horse and donkey meat," a spokesman said. "Consumers have a right to know what they are eating, and need to be able to trust what they read on labels. We do not know the extent of the problem, and that is why we have launched this major survey."
Inspectors will check supermarkets and delicatessens around the country. Manufacturers whose brands contain unlabelled horse meat could be threatened with prosecution and fines. The companies in the initial study were warned and later spot checks found no traces of horse meat.
A spokeswoman for the Consumers' Association said: "It is extremely important that consumers have the right information on labels. With an issue like horse meat, it is very much a social and cultural thing." Horse meat salami is considered a delicacy in France, Belgium and Italy.Reuse content