Is there horse in your wors? Not unlikely!

Can you trust the labels on processed meats – mince, sausages, deli meats and burgers? If a study conducted by Dr Donna Cawthorn, a food scientist with the University of Stellenbosch, is anything to go by, you can’t, reports IOL consumer columnist, Wendy Knowler.

Cawthorn’s DNA testing of meat products from butcheries in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape revealed that of 139 samples, 95 – or 68 percent – contained meat species which were not declared on the label.

And in the case of samples from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, it was a staggering 90 percent.

Sausages were most likely to contain meat species not declared on the label.

Pork and chicken were the most undeclared species in the survey – 37 percent of samples had undeclared pork in them, and 22 percent had undeclared chicken – these meats generally being cheaper than beef or mutton.

There was undeclared beef and mutton in 19 percent of the samples.

The results revealed widespread contraventions of the Consumer Protection Act – in terms of misleading consumers – and the Regulations Relating to the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs, which came into effect in March 2012.

Cawthorn revealed her findings in a presentation entitled “Is there horse in my wors?” at a meeting of the SA Association for Food Science and Technology in Cape Town.

And that’s not the only unconventional butchery meat she found – four samples tested positive for goat, and another four for water buffalo.

Cawthorn has chosen not to identify the source of the samples, which is common in the case of academic studies, but leaves consumers unsatisfyingly in the dark about the dodgy butchers.

Knowler’s own column, Consumer Watch, commissioned independent DNA testing of a much smaller study: 13 samples of mince and sausages, bought from 10 butcheries in the Durban area, one of the country’s hot spots for adulterated processed meat.

 Only four of the 13 were found not to have undeclared meat species in them, and many also contained undeclared soya or gluten, allergens which are required by law to be declared on food labels……

IOL: Read the full article here