Thomas Bridge 17 April 2014

Takeaway meat scare prompts prioritised council testing

Councils are being asked to examine 300 food samples from takeaway restaurants, after lamb dishes across the UK were revealed to contain substitute meat.

A Foods Standards Agency (FSA) review of local authority sampling data from July to December 2013 found that 43 out of 145 samples of lamb takeaway meals contained beef, chicken and turkey.

While 25 of the supposed lamb samples contained ‘only beef’, the FSA also confirmed horsemeat had not been found in any tested dishes.

The FSA said prioritised local authority testing of lamb takeaway dishes – commencing in May - would ‘focus the efforts of enforcement officers’ and ‘raise awareness’ amongst food businesses.

A separate survey of lamb dishes from restaurants in Birmingham and London by Which? released today found almost half of the 60 lamb takeaways tested were ‘adulterated’ with beef and chicken.

'Substitution of lamb for cheaper meats in takeaway food, as seen in our own data and the survey released today by Which?, is unacceptable and we are working closely with local authorities to ensure robust action is taken against any businesses misleading their customers,’ chief operating officer at the FSA, Andrew Rhodes, said.

'Prosecutions have taken place against business owners for mislabelling lamb dishes, but the recurring nature of the problem shows there needs to be a renewed effort to tackle this problem.

‘Clearly the message isn’t getting through to some businesses,’ he added.

While a vocal fan of take out meals, communities secretary Eric Pickles’ ties to the humble chicken tikka masala might have helped the minister dodge any tainted lamb dishes. Pickles is noted as saying it is ‘a fundamental right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait two weeks for it to be collected’.

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