Update on progress of FSA beef product surveys

Posted: 8 March 2013 | Food Standards Agency (FSA) | No comments yet

Sampling of the first and second phases of the Food Standards Agency’s UK-wide survey of beef products has been completed…

Food Standards Agency (FSA) Logo

Sampling of the first and second phases of the Food Standards Agency’s UK-wide survey of beef products has been completed and the initial test results published today. The results show that 212 of the 224 samples taken in phase one are negative for both horse and pig DNA at or above the 1% threshold.

For phase one, two products contain levels of pig DNA above 1%. So far, no products are verified as containing horse DNA at a level above 1%. Preliminary tests show that seven samples, representing six different products, may contain horse DNA above 1% and a further three may contain pig DNA above 1%. However, further checks are needed to verify this. Where levels over the 1% threshold are confirmed, the FSA will publish details as soon as this information is received.

For phase two, one product tested to date contains levels of pig DNA above 1%; none contain horse DNA above this level. Full results of phase two are awaited.

The three products that are confirmed as positive for pig DNA above 1% have already been listed on the companies’ websites. They are:

Both Asda products have been withdrawn from sale. Details on returning products are on Asda’s website. Apetito has indicated that almost all of its product will have been served, but unused stock can be returned to the company.

Local authorities are investigating each case where a product is suspected of containing horse or pig above 1% and have taken steps to ensure that the product is withdrawn from sale pending confirmation of the test results.

Background to the survey

The sampling survey was designed to be geographically representative of beef products on sale across the UK. It is separate from the industry test results that have been supplied to the FSA by the food industry and announced by the Agency in three waves over recent weeks.

Phase one of the study involved testing mainly burgers, but also beef sausages, meatballs and minced beef. Samples of both frozen and chilled products were taken for testing, with a focus on lower priced value or economy ranges of both brands and own-label.

Phase two was added to the survey in order to ensure a wider range of processed beef products were tested. It included ready meals (frozen, chilled and tinned), of which 140 samples were taken.

The FSA focus continues to be on gross contamination of beef products with horse meat, that is, where there is more than 1% horse DNA detected in a product. The Agency believes that such levels of horse DNA indicate either gross negligence or deliberate substitution of one meat for another.

Samples were taken from a range of businesses including retail outlets (major retailers, small independent grocers, small/micro retail outlets); wholesale and catering suppliers (in particular, wholesale businesses supplying schools and hospitals); catering outlets (high street names as well as smaller, micro businesses). The survey was undertaken by 28 local authorities across the UK.

Full details of the sampling programme (including all products tested) will be published in a report due in April.

Related Items

List of local authorities in phases 1 and 2 of the survey into beef products