DNA testing on meat

Up to 38% of 900 foodstuffs exmained in West Yorkshire failed authenticity tests

More than a third of food samples analysed by West Yorkshire authorities were not what they claimed to be or were mislabelled in some way, a new investigation has revealed.

Testing of 900 sample products revealed frozen prawns that were 50% water; beef mince adulterated with pork and poultry ; and a herbal slimming tea containing neither herbs nor tea but a withdrawn prescription drug for obesity at 13 times the normal dose.

Experts told The Guardian the findings could be representative of the situation across the country.

“We are routinely finding problems with more than a third of samples, which is disturbing at a time when the budget for food standards inspection and analysis is being cut,” said the head of West Yorkshire Analytical Services Dr Duncan Campbell.

Many of the samples were collected from fast-food restaurants, independent retailers and wholesalers although some were from larger stores and manufacturers.

Testing also revealed that a third of fruit-juice samples were not what they claimed or had labelling errors, and tests on a sample of ‘vodka’ showed it had been made from isopropanol, which is used in antifreeze.

The news comes as the government ramps up its focus on food authenticity in the wake of the horsemeat scandal last year.

The Food Standards Agency is to start testing foodstuffs including beef, honey, apple juice and tomatoes to check that where they are labelled as British, they are in fact sourced from Britain.

And Defra told The Guardian it had increased funding to support local authorities to carry out its work to identify and prevent food fraud to £2m: “We will continue to work closely with the food industry, enforcement agencies and across government to improve intelligence on food fraud and clamp down on deliberate attempts to deceive consumers.”