Johannesburg - More than two-thirds of meat samples from South African supermarkets contained unlabeled traces of donkey, goat or water buffalo, a study by university academics found.
Of 139 samples of meat, 68 percent tested positive for ingredients other than those declared on the packaging, according to an article made public yesterday by the University of Stellenbosch.
The study follows the recall of several meat products across Europe, including by British retailer Tesco, after it was discovered they contained horse DNA.
“Our study confirms that the mislabeling of processed meats is commonplace in South Africa and not only violates food labelling regulations, but also poses economic, religious, ethical and health impacts,” Louw Hoffman, one of the report’s authors, said in a telephone interview.
He declined to name the supermarkets where products were mislabeled.
Supermarkets in the UK, Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Germany pulled frozen beef burgers and lasagnes from shelves and France has threatened sanctions for negligence and fraud since the horse meat contamination scandal began last month.
Ikea Group, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, stopped serving and selling Swedish meatballs across most of Europe, it said yesterday, after the discovery of traces of horse meat in the product.
Ikea is testing its meatballs again to validate findings in the Czech Republic and expects to have the results by the end of this week.
Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, said yesterday it dropped Spanish supplier Servocar after beef products were found to contain horse meat.
Shoprite, Africa’s largest food retailer, said meats sold in its butcheries are subjected to DNA testing on a regular basis.
“We do not believe that any of our suppliers, who are reputable companies, would transgress food standards and labelling regulations, but should any of these suppliers be implicated in the study, Shoprite will penalise them in the strongest terms,” chief executive Whitey Basson said in e-mailed comments today.
The meat products were sampled over a three-month period during the middle of last year, Hoffmann said from Stellenbosch.
Samples were collected in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces, he said.
Woolworths, a food and apparel retailer based in Cape Town, isn’t affected by incidents of “contamination,” the company said in an e-mailed response to questions.
Random checks, such as DNA testing, are conducted routinely on meat products, it said.
Pick n Pay, South Africa’s second-largest grocer, has supplier warranties in place and conducts spot DNA tests, spokesman Tamra Veley said by e-mail.
The Cape Town-based company hired Richard Brasher, the former head of Tesco’s UK unit, as chief executive officer earlier this year. - Bloomberg News