New surveys find no horse DNA in beef, but fraud persists in the fast food industry, with some lamb kebabs containing no lamb meat, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Two new surveys by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) have found no horse meat in beef products, but did find chicken and beef in lamb dishes, with some lamb kebabs containing no lamb meat.

As part of an ongoing EU-wide programme on food fraud, the FSAI’s study of beef products found no traces of horse DNA in the 52 beef products analysed, which included burgers, meat-based meals, corned beef, meat balls and pasta dishes. This demonstrates compliance by the industry, the FSAI said.

However, a separate study by the FSAI examining lamb kebabs and lamb dishes in takeaway restaurants raised concerns about the presence of undeclared meat, such as chicken and beef.

An FSAI survey, carried out in collaboration with the Health Service Executive last month, revealed the presence of meats other than lamb in seven of the 20 foods sampled from independent takeaway restaurants in Dublin City, which were described on the menus/menu boards as containing lamb. The study tested for the presence of DNA from bovine, pig, sheep, goat, horse, chicken and turkey in 10 kebabs and ten lamb dishes. Horse, goat, pig or turkey DNA was not found in any sample.

Six of the seven foods with undeclared meat were described on the menus/menu boards as lamb kebabs, but most of these did not contain any lamb at all or only contained very small quantities. All six lamb kebabs with undeclared meat contained over 60% chicken and 5–30% beef. Only three of these six lamb kebabs were found to contain lamb, however, the levels were as low as 1-5%. Finally, one of the ten lamb dishes sampled – minced meat for lamb skewers – with undeclared meat that was described on the menu/menu board as lamb, was found to contain over 60% beef and over 30% lamb.

Prof Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI, stated that while this is not a food safety issue, the fact that undeclared meats have been identified raises concerns about misleading consumers and not giving them the correct information about the food they are eating.

“When you order a lamb kebab you expect to get a lamb kebab and not a beef and chicken kebab. Incorrectly listing meat products on a menu or menu board, whether inadvertently or by design, is an unacceptable infringement of the labelling legislation. The FSAI is committed to protecting consumers’ interests and ensuring the integrity of the Irish food supply chain. We will not hesitate to take appropriate action on food businesses that are found to be intentionally misleading consumers through incorrect labelling or display on a menu or menu board.”