Dozens of dishes fail food standards meat tests

Happy young couple sharing a meal in a restaurant
Happy young couple sharing a meal in a restaurant
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Dozens of meat dishes for sale in Scottish restaurants and shops have been found to contain the DNA of an entirely different animal, after being tested by local councils.

Of the 631 dishes examined last year, 48 were found to have been “contaminated” with the meat of an animal not listed on the label or menu description.

The data, released by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) following a Freedom of Information request by the BBC, suggests that five years on from the horse meat scandal the contamination of food is still a serious problem.

Processed foods including Indian-style lamb dishes, kebabs and sausages were among the dishes affected, while inspectors also found some ham pizza toppings were chicken or turkey.

The FSS did not reveal the names of the businesses found to be at fault, but it did release a number of examples of the contamination discovered through laboratory testing ordered by councils.

One Dundee restaurant was selling a product described as “cooked lamb” which only contained beef. Another outlet in the city did the same with a lamb passanda.

A restaurant in Angus was also found to be serving a “beef in oyster sauce” dish which was found to consist only of pork, while minced lamb from a shop in Glasgow contained both lamb and chicken.

Barbecue pork spare ribs from a “primary producer” in Falkirk were found to be chicken, while a Greek chicken stir fry from a shop in the Western Isles also contained turkey.

Beef mince from a shop in Edinburgh was also found to contain pork, with the FSS pointing out that this “would be objectionable to consumers wishing to avoid pork for cultural reasons”.

Gary Walker, who runs the Glasgow Scientific Services Lab which tests samples for 16 councils, said some cases were not “malicious” and were caused by machines not being cleaned properly.

But he added: “We have also seen other things which are a bit more deliberate, where one meat has been substituted for another.” Some businesses do this to save money.

Dr Jacqui McElhiney, head of surveillance at FSS, said councils should take “appropriate action” in such cases, which might include asking businesses to withdraw products.

“Consumers rightly expect that the food they buy is what it says it is on the label,” she added. “We would urge anyone working within the food industry in Scotland who has suspicions or knowledge about food fraud or food crime to report them.”