Undeclared meat found in UK takeaway meals

Over 20% of lamb dishes in UK takeaways have undeclared meat, according to the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The FSA has published results a survey of undeclared meat in lamb dishes found in takeaway meals across the UK.

The testing was announced last year and was prompted by evidence of ongoing substitution of lamb for cheaper meats, such as beef and chicken.

Of the samples tested, 223 (73%) were fully compliant with food legislation and 65 samples (21%) failed because of the presence of non-declared meat.

The samples that tested positive for undeclared meat showed the presence of beef, chicken, and in one sample pork, although not sold as a halal product.

Of these samples, 23 had levels of undeclared meat species below 1% which is more likely to indicate poor handling during processing rather than potential adulteration.

Some of the lamb products sampled were found to only contain beef. Horsemeat was not present in any of the samples tested.

Local authority trading standards and environmental health officers sampled 307 lamb dishes, such as curries and kebabs, sold from takeaway outlets.

All were tested for the presence of undeclared species of meat. Dishes with sauces were also tested for undeclared allergens and the unauthorised use of additives.

John Barnes, Head of Local Delivery at the FSA, said consumers need to know that the food they buy is what it says on the menu or the label.

“The FSA is working with local authorities to identify potential problems and investigate. Where problems are identified, local authorities are taking corrective action, including prosecuting offending businesses where necessary.

“The FSA and local authorities are on the lookout for deliberate meat substitution and action will be taken to protect local consumers and legitimate food businesses.”