Our most recent investigation found 40% of lamb takeaways had been contaminated with other meats, with some containing no lamb at all. Shouldn’t we be able to trust the food we buy is what it says it is?
Today we launch our Stop Food Fraud campaign, prompted by our investigation into adulteration of lamb takeaways.
We want the Government, local authorities and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to take action so that we can trust the food we buy.
Our lamb takeaway tests
We bought 60 lamb takeaways in Birmingham and London (15 curries and 15 minced lamb kebabs in each location) and sent them to a lab to be analysed. We tested for the presence of lamb, chicken, beef, pork, turkey, goat and horse DNA.
Out of 60 samples, 24 were adulterated: 17 contained lamb with beef and/or chicken, and seven contained no lamb at all.
A few local authorities have carried out the same testing and found similar results. The reason for the adulteration is that both beef and chicken are cheaper than lamb. Therefore, by substituting them in place of lamb the restaurant can offer the product at a lower price or make significant savings.
I don’t eat lamb or beef but if I ordered a lamb takeaway and was instead given beef I’d be annoyed. As would many of my family who are Hindu so don’t eat beef for religious reasons.
Other commonly faked foods
We know that food fraud is not limited to lamb – last year horsemeat was found in our foods and experts say that most food is susceptible to fraud.
The biggest food fraud problem in the UK, and most likely worldwide, is counterfeit alcohol – including wine, vodka and Scotch whisky. Whereas substituting lamb for chicken might not be harmful to your physical health, counterfeit alcohol can be. Fake vodka has been found to contain a chemical found in antifreeze and methanol which can be fatal.
Other commonly adulterated foods include olive oil, fish, Basmati rice, honey, cheese and organic food.
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.
You can help by signing our Stop Food Fraud petition – your signature will help push food fraud up the agenda and ensure action is taken.