Food fraudsters are being targeted by the FSA in response to mounting concerns over the authenticity of meat products.

The FSA said it was developing meat authenticity tests in response to the needs of local authority officers.

"Our authenticity programme has to anticipate what issues will be important and where there are gaps in methodology," said a spokesman.

Scientists working for the agency have developed a tool that can verify manufacturers' claims about what meat is in a product. The test is aimed particularly at processed products and ready meals.

It is busy developing a battery of further tests, including one capable of showing whether an organic animal has been treated with illegal antibiotics and another that can pinpoint the origin of a piece of meat.

The drug test examines an animal's leg bone for traces of antibiotics, which are laid down in layers of bone whenever they are adminstered.

By revealing how many times the animal has been given the drugs, enforcement officers can see whether the farmer has stuck to the rules on organic meat, which only allow one dose per year.

Meanwhile, the provenance test will match the DNA from a sample of suspect meat to a database containing details of meat DNA from different regions of different countries.

Variations in the animal's environment can be detected in the meat's genetic makeup, according to the FSA's Mark Woolfe, head of food authenticity research.

"A test for origin is crucial to protect against disease outbreaks. It is easy to switch health-marked labels then re-box it."

However, some experts expressed doubts about the need for such tests. A Lacors spokesman said: "We are not aware of a specific problem of food authenticity."