MP speaks of ‘biggest consumer fraud’ after mislabelling of goat and turkey

Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh has described food mislabelling as “the biggest consumer fraud ever perpetrated” after it emerged goat and turkey were found in place of lamb and chicken in tests carried out in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

The latest discovery comes as the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee prepares to question a frozen food company at the centre of the mislabelling crisis tomorrow.

Wakefield Labour MP Mrs Creagh said it was likely that fresh revelations would follow the detection of goat and turkey in a range of foods from supermarkets, caterers and school meals.

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“There are 7m people in this country where their local authority doesn’t do any testing,” she said.

“We just don’t know how far the adulteration and passing off actually goes.”

Around 1,400 samples were DNA tested on behalf of 30 to 40 councils in England and Wales by Government-accredited food testing laboratory Public Analyst Scientific Services.

Up to 5 per cent of lamb samples contained goat and a similar proportion of chicken contained turkey, it was reported yesterday.

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Suspicions have been raised that the turkey DNA was from mechanically-separated meat (MGM), which legally cannot be described as meat.

“We need more random sampling around adulteration and I think there needs to be zero tolerance of MGM illegally being passed off as expensive meat,” said Mrs Creagh.

“This has been the biggest consumer fraud ever perpetrated.”

The scandal broke in January when horse DNA was found in frozen beefburgers on sale in a number of supermarkets. Since then it has been found in dozens more products, as has pork, including in foods labelled as halal.

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The EFRA select committee will tomorrow hear evidence from frozen food company Freeza Meats following the discovery of meat containing 80 per cent horse at a cold store operated by the firm in Northern Ireland in February.

The panel will also hear further evidence from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to follow up on recommendations it made in a report on beef contamination in February.

A review of the agency’s handling of the discovery of contaminated meat was announced last month and its findings will be published next month.