THE next hamburger patty you eat could contain donkey and the next boerewors roll could be full of goat.
A Stellenbosch University study has found that a large proportion of meat products on the South African market have been fraudulently labelled.
Some of these findings were first published in the Cape Times two months ago.
Soya, gluten, donkey, goat and water buffalo were some of the ingredients found in meats tested.
These were not declared on the packaging labels.
This emerged after news broke that a number of European meat products contained horsemeat, although their labels did not reflect this.
It emerged this week that Ikea had withdrawn the sale of meatballs from its stores in the UK and more than 20 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat.
Louw Hoffman of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Animal Sciences said that supermarkets had sent more than 200 samples of meat to be tested for horsemeat.
“We haven’t found any yet, which is good to know.”
The study was completed by Donna-Maree Cawthorn and Hoffman, in conjunction with Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services, and reported in the international Food Control journal.
The meat scientists tested 139 processed meat products – minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats – collected from retail outlets and butcheries in South Africa.
Findings of the study included:
l Sixty-eight percent of samples contained species not declared on the label.
l Sausages, burger patties and deli meats were more likely to be incorrectly labelled.
l Twenty-eight percent of samples contained undeclared plant proteins, soya and gluten.
l Pork (37 percent) and chicken (23 percent) were the most commonly detected animal species.
l Donkey, goat and water buffalo were also discovered in a number of products.
Hoffman said the study had been carried out midway through last year in four provinces – the Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
He said the researchers had focused on mince, sausage and patties, as that was where mixing of meats took place.
Hoffman said it had been expected they would find plant proteins as this would lower the cost for the manufacturer.
He said it had been decided to test the meat products as new labelling legislation had been put in place early last year and he thought the industry had not yet “come to the party”. But this appeared to be changing.
“I do see more and more labels are correct. We are moving in the right direction,” said Hoffman, the world’s foremost researcher on aspects of game meat. Last month, he became the first South African to receive the American Meat Science Society’s International Lectureship Award.