The discovery of horse in meat products sparked outrage across Europe and a new Stellenbosch University report has revealed similar findings in SA.
“There’s a fair share of fraudulent meat products on the South African market, according to a new study by meat scientists from Stellenbosch University,” the university’s news blog reported on Monday.
“The study found that anything from soya, donkey, goat and water buffalo were to be found in up to 68% of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats that were tested. In other cases, even undeclared plant matter was detected.”
According to the blog, the study was published in the international Food Control journal and was created by Donna-Maree Cawthorn and Louw Hoffman of the Stellenbosch University’s department of animal sciences.
“Our study confirms that the mislabelling of processed meats is commonplace in South Africa and not only violates food labelling regulations, but also poses economic, religious, ethical and health impacts,” said Hoffman.
“Unconventional species such as donkey, goat and water buffalo were also discovered in a number of products.”
In Britain, frozen food giant from Sweden, Findus, and supermarket chains Tesco and Aldi have all been forced to recall products labelled as beef which, tests showed, contained up to 100% horse meat, the Mail & Guardian reported on February 9.
Findus withdrew various frozen meals from France and Sweden on February 8, a day after withdrawing frozen beef lasagne from sale in Britain that was found to contain up to 100% equine flesh.
“We believe that the two particular cases of the frozen burgers from Tesco and the lasagne from Findus are linked to suppliers in Ireland and France respectively,” said the UK’s Food Minister Owen Paterson over two weeks ago.
The Stellenbosch University study forms part of a research project in which Hoffman and Cawthorn used DNA-based species authentication to identify commercial fish species and game species sold in local restaurants.
The blog stated they found that a large percentage of fish and game meat sold was in fact identified incorrectly.
Research into why this occurred is now under way, said the university blog.