A survey published yesterday by the Food Standards Association (FSA) shows that minced meat labels in supermarkets are often claiming the product contains less fat than it actually does.

The survey compared the fat content of ‘standard’ minced meat with mince claiming to be ‘lean’ or ‘extra/ super lean’, and in some cases the latter contained as much if not more than ‘lean’ mince.

The FSA looked at 444 samples of fresh and frozen minced beef, and it discovered the amount of fat in standard beef mince ranged from 1.9g to 32.3g per 100g, with several samples of the ‘extra’ or ‘super’ lean mince containing a higher fat content than some ‘lean’ mince.

It also noted that 55 of the 308 samples which gave nutritional information on the label contained more fat than the label claimed.

David Statham, director of enforcement and food standards at the FSA said: “Consumers expect products described as ‘extra’ or ‘super’ lean to contain less fat than ‘lean’ mince. Indeed people often pay a premium rice for such products, and yet this survey highlights the fact that some of the products described as ‘extra’ or ‘super’ lean actually contain as much fat, if not more, than ‘lean’ mince.”

The UK law does not specify a maximum fat content for mince unless it is sold under a specific name such as ‘lean minced meat’, when the fat content must not exceed 7%. However, if the product is described in a different way, such as ‘minced-meat lean’ the law does not apply, although the FSA states that food must not be described in a way that misleads the consumer.