12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

23 Apr 14

Substitution of "lamb" meat in curries and kebabs

It has been widely reported that an FSA review of local authority sampling found widespread substitution of other meats for lamb in takeaway kebabs and curries. Of 145 supposed lamb samples from across the UK, 43 contained other types of meat, with 25 of these being purely beef and others containing chicken or turkey. An investigation by Which? on the same subject has also received much media attention, and yielded similarly worrying results to the FSA review. The Which? testing was carried out on 60 samples sold as lamb by outlets in Birmingham and London, and discovered that 24 of the meals contained beef or chicken, with seven of these containing no lamb at all. In an additional five of the tested dishes, the meat species could not be identified at all - probably due to overcooking or recooking. In response to these findings, the FSA will in May begin a new round of priority testing of lamb takeaway dished across the UK, with local authorities being asked to test and report on 300 samples from their areas. This programme aims to raise awareness among food businesses about the FSA's commitment to tackling issues of meat substitution and the consequences that fraudulent businesses will face - fines of up to £5000 for mislabelling. [Food Standards Agency]

More horsemeat testing to be carried out

As part of ongoing efforts to tackle meat fraud and mislabelling in the wake of 2013's horsemeat scandal, the FSA is beginning a new round of testing beef products for horsemeat adulteration or substitution. This testing has been requested by the European Commission, and is being carried out in all member states. The testing will involve 150 samples (including raw and cooked meat products, including canned foods) gathered by 24 local authorities; it will be funded by the FSA and conducted by local authorities in time to submit results to the European Commission by July this year. Any meat products found to contain more than 1% horsemeat contamination will be reported and withdrawn from sale. [Food Standards Agency]

Search for the source of European Hepatitis A outbreak continues, with frozen berry consumption implicated

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have issued an update on their investigation to determine the source of a Hepatitis A outbreak that has affected eleven EU member states. The outbreak has been linked to consumption of frozen berries, but not yet traced back to a specific source. Whilst initial indications suggested the outbreak might have spread via travel to and from Italy, cases in which the viral genomes share a characteristic sequence have now been identified in France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, with no relevant travel history to Italy. Whilst researchers have not ruled out possibilities such as cross-contamination in a food production environment or a widespread and hitherto undetected outbreak strain, efforts to identify the most likely culprit - a common, continuous source of a single outbreak - continue. [FoodSafetyWatch]

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