Fast food takeaways are to face a new testing programme after it was found that nearly a third of lamb takeaways it checked, contained a different meat. The Food Standards Agency found that the takeaways, usually curries or kebabs, were wrongly described with 25 out of the 145 samples tested, found to contain beef and all in all 43 out of the 145 were not what they were supposed to be. There was no horsemeat found but chicken and turkey appeared in the so called “lamb” dishes. In London and Birmingham when Which? carried out their own testing they found an even higher proportion, around 40%, were wrongly labelled so now local authorities are being asked to carry out their own tests following through on ensuring quality customer care.
Food fraudsters play on consumer ignorance
Whilst I would find it hard to distinguish lamb from other meats in a curry due to the spiciness of the sauce surrounding it, I do have to say the revolving slab of kebab meat displayed on some takeaway counters has often left me wondering just exactly form of animal protein it is. Food swindlers are definitely helped by consumer ignorance and food fraud is not a new form of crime. Even the Romans used to doctor their drink with leaded wine, and it wasn’t until the development of our scientific ability that we were able to highlight doctoring of food and drink on a large scale. This was noted in Victorian times, when a scientist put coffee under the microscope and discovered that genuine coffee it certainly wasn’t and if you wanted a dollop of pure mustard to have with your roast beef then London wasn’t the place to get it in the 1800's.
£5,000 fines for those who wrongly label food products
The FSA have noted that the message still isn’t getting through to takeaway owners, who have been substituting lamb for cheaper meats. If they are found to be doing this and incorrectly labelling food dishes they can be fined up to £5,000 which should certainly grab their attention. To reinforce this, local authorities will be required to take 300 samples of lamb dishes from takeaways starting next month.
Which? is also pushing for further testing of products to restore consumer confidence in meat and to follow through on the recommendations of the Elliott Review which was set up following the horsemeat scandal. Professor Elliott made 48 recommendations one of which included setting up a food crime unit to counteract food fraud. This certainly got my attention at the time and I wondered what exactly would we call these food police and then it came to me – The Frying Squad!
If you have had any doubts or suspicions about fast food you have purchased recently let us know – we’re listening!