‘Undeclared meat’ found in kebabs during food sampling investigation

Bucks Trading Standards officers David Graby and Sarah Stevens sampling burgers and kebabs
Bucks Trading Standards officers David Graby and Sarah Stevens sampling burgers and kebabs

Keen kebab eaters are being misled by wrongly labelled food, a Trading Standards probe has found.

The investigation came about following the horsemeat scandal in 2013.

County councillors agreed an extra £50,000 should be spent ensuring the food sold to Bucks residents was genuine.

The results of the investigation during the year have been published in Trading Standards annual food tests review.

26 different meat takeaway products were sampled.

In lamb doner kebabs nine samples had undeclared chicken in them with one having undeclared beef.

Two burgers were found to have undeclared lamb in them.

Initial investigations suggest wholesalers sell correctly labelled products, but the takeaway outlets may be ignorant of how to describe these at the point of sale and customers are potentially being misled.

Catering establishments are being advised on labelling changes coming into effect in December 2014.

Other foods investigated included children’s ready meals with one of the 20 samples found to have less fat than stated.

Fruit juices were also sampled following a complaint that the majority of importers of concentrated fruit juices were adding more water than was taken away when reconstituting.

The results from 115 samples of a wide range of juices at first seemed to substantiate this claim however on further investigation it was found that allowance needed to be made for the presence of citric acid in some of the juices.

Tests also took place on olive oil and durum wheat owing to poor harvests.

Tests on soft drinks uncovered in some samples the presence of high levels of Benzoic Acid and ‘Southampton Six’ colours, which is linked to children’s hyperactivity.

Two samples found to have particularly high levels were removed from sale.

Trading Standards officers also investigated evidence of aflatoxin contamination - fungal growth in imported food products, which could lead to liver damage.

They found toxins in two samples that triggered product recalls, two samples in which aflatoxins were present, and five samples with incorrect labelling.

Trading Standards manager Amanda Poole said the additional funding for 2013/14 had enabled the team to make the best use of intelligence and public reports in targeting areas where officers suspected there would be most cause for concern.

Labelling issues were also found with some samples of Polish meat products and ground nut powders.

Martin Phillips, county council cabinet member for community engagement, said: “I want to ensure our residents have every confidence that we are alert and active about the safety of the food we eat.

“Our Trading Standards team do an outstanding job ensuring food authenticity with thorough investigation and testing.”