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Friday 25 July 2014

Horse and pig DNA found in 'beef'

Published 26/03/2013|11:51

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Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said consumers 'have a right to expect that all the food they are eating is correctly described'

A survey of 357 beef products for possible contamination has found two contained horse DNA and three contained pig DNA, according to figures released by the Government.

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All five products, which contained more than 1% horse or pig DNA, have been withdrawn from sale and named on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said in a written statement.

A further five samples are "in dispute".

There have been no positive tests to date for the presence of bute in any of the UK food samples found to contain horse DNA, he said.

The UK-wide survey of products including burgers, meatballs, minced beef, ready meals and tinned products is in addition to the results of 5,430 industry tests reported on March 4.

Mr Paterson said the FSA would next publish a summary of ongoing testing for horse DNA in processed beef products in early June, and would continue to report individual products testing positive above the 1% limit as soon as they are confirmed by the food industry.

He added that although the short-term priority had been to focus on the deliberate substitution of beef with horse, "this does not mean that we have ignored the possibility of beef products containing undeclared pork or pig DNA".

He said: "Consumers have a right to expect that all the food they are eating is correctly described. I recognise that even trace levels of pork contamination, below the 1% threshold, are unacceptable to some faith communities. Where a product is labelled as Halal and is found to contain traces of horse or pig DNA, the relevant local authority will investigate each case and take steps to ensure that consumers are informed.

"It remains the responsibility of all food businesses, including processors, catering suppliers and retailers, to ensure that the food they sell is what it says it is on the label, and Kosher and Halal certification bodies have a part to play in this.

"Any claims on a product certified by a certification body must be accurate. It is for the certification body to set out the standards which a certified product must meet, and for that body to work with food businesses to ensure those standards are adhered to."

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