Shocking evidence of food fraud revealed

Which? has launched a new campaign to ‘Stop Food Fraud’ as our latest investigation found 40% of lamb takeaways had been contaminated with other meats, with some containing no lamb at all.

Consumer confidence in the food industry has been hit hard following the horsemeat scandal. In November last year, nine months after the fiasco, we found half (49%) of people were still claiming they had changed their meat-eating habits with a third (32%) saying they were buying less meat.

We tested 60 takeaway lamb curries and minced kebabs from restaurants in Birmingham and London and found that 24 of them had been mixed with other meats such as beef and chicken. Worryingly, seven of the samples contained no lamb at all.

The meat in five of the samples could not be identified, with the most likely explanation for this being the meat had been overcooked or re-cooked.

In Birmingham, 16 of the 30 samples contained other meat. Five of the samples contained no lamb at all.

In comparison, eight of the 30 samples in London were mixed with other meat. Two of the minced lamb kebabs contained just beef.

Which? is calling on the Government, local authorities and the Food Standards agency to Stop Food Fraud and help restore consumers’ trust in the industry following the horsemeat scandal.

We want:

Food we can trust when eating out

  • Local authorities need to deliver food law enforcement effectively and efficiently. Given the limited resources that many local authorities are working with, they need to make the best use of these by sharing services and expertise across councils.
  • The Food Standards Agency needs to ensure there is joined up action at a national and local level that prioritises consumers’ interest.

Lessons learned from horsemeat

  • The Government should implement the recommendations from the Elliott Review on horsemeat and prioritise food controls, standards and their enforcement. We want a zero tolerance approach to food fraud so potential fraudsters know they will be caught.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“More than a year on from the horsemeat scandal, our research uncovers shocking evidence of food fraud.

“The Government, local authorities and the FSA need to make tackling food fraud a priority and take tougher action to crack down on the offenders. This is vital to restoring trust in the industry, which is not only good for consumers but good for businesses too.”

Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Institute for Global Food Security, said:

“The survey results come as no great surprise to me. Whenever issues about food contamination and adulteration are looked for in a serious way they are found. Without rigorous monitoring programmes in place cheats will always try to take advantage of consumers.

“We need to develop systems in the UK that deter fraud and help support the many businesses that work hard to deliver safe and authentic food.”


Notes to editors

1.    We bought 60 lamb takeaways from a selection of Birmingham and London restaurants – 15 lamb curries and 15 minced lamb kebabs in each location. We tested the samples for lamb, beef, chicken, horse, goat, pork and turkey DNA.

2.    We have rated the lamb samples to be contaminated, or “adulterated”, if they contained more than 5% of another meat.

3.    The full results of the takeaways are:

Takeaway results table

4.    Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed 2079 UK adults between 20th and 21st November 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of the UK adult population. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

5.    Pledge your support to our Stop Food Fraud campaign here

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