Health & Practical Tips — 07 March 2014

Fake-food scandal in the UK revealed as tests show a third of products are mislabelled.

Felicity Lawrence writes in the Guardian on February 8, 2014 that laboratory tests show that consumers in the UK are being sold drinks with banned flame-retardant additives, pork in beef, fake cheese, and more.

The checks on hundreds of food samples, which were taken in West Yorkshire, revealed that more than a third were not what they claimed to be, or were mislabelled in some way. Their results have been shared with the Guardian.

Consumers are being sold food including mozzarella that is less than half real cheese, ham on pizzas that is either poultry or “meat emulsion”, and frozen prawns that are 50% water, according to tests by a public laboratory.

West Yorkshire is unusual in retaining a leading public laboratory and maintaining its testing regime. Samples are anonymised for testing by public analysts to prevent bias, so we are unable to see who had made or sold individual products. Many of the samples were collected from fast-food restaurants, independent retailers and wholesalers; some were from larger stores and manufacturers.

Bottled Fruit Juices

Testers also discovered beef mince adulterated with pork or poultry, and even a herbal slimming tea that was neither herb nor tea but glucose powder laced with a withdrawn prescription drug for obesity at 13 times the normal dose.

Some ham tested contained ‘meat emulsion’ (meat ground with additives so fat can be put through it) or ‘meat slurry’ (removing scraps of meat from bones).

A third of fruit juices sampled were not what they claimed or had labelling errors. Two contained additives that are not permitted in the EU, including brominated vegetable oil, which is designed for use in flame retardants and linked to behavioural problems in rats at high doses.

Counterfeit vodka sold by small shops remains a major problem, with several samples not meeting the percentage of alcohol laid down for the spirit. In one case, tests revealed that the “vodka” had been made not from alcohol derived from agricultural produce, as required, but from isopropanol, used in antifreeze and as an industrial solvent.

Several samples of cheese on pizzas were not in fact cheese as claimed but cheese analogue, made with vegetable oil and additives. It is not illegal to use cheese analogue but it should be properly identified as such.

A Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK) spokesperson said: “There are already robust procedures in places to identify and prevent food fraud and the FSA has increased funding to support local authorities to carry out this work to £2m. We will continue to work closely with the food industry, enforcement agencies and across government to improve intelligence on food fraud and clamp down on deliberate attempts to deceive consumers.”

Comment: Indeed. Considering these are findings from a relatively small area on this planet, one shudders thinking what is happening elsewhere. This ought to be of utmost importance to the government yet we can take responsibility as individuals for the food we buy and eat. Do read the labels! As the saying goes, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

Read full article: Fake-food scandal revealed as tests show third of products mislabelled

Comment and Illustration by Osho News

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