Monday, January 21, 2013

Burgers - where's the beef?

Last week the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) published the findings of a targeted study examining the authenticity of a number of beef burger, beef meal and salami products available from retail outlets in Ireland.  The study which tested for the presence of horse and pig DNA, revealed the presence of horse DNA in some beef burger products. 

A total of 27 beef burger products were analysed with 37% testing positive for horse DNA and 85% testing positive for pig DNA. In addition, 31 beef meal products (cottage pie, beef curry pie, lasagne, etc) were analysed of which 21 were positive for pig DNA. Only 19 salami products were free of any other species.

Efforts to trace the source of adulteration in the burgers are focusing on additives used in the manufacturing process. Cheap burgers are made with so called "beef ingredient products" which can make up 37% of a burger. So only 63% are actually meat and the rest is additive mixes of concentrated proteins extracted from animal carcasses and offcuts. There is a chance that the horse and pig DNA were more likely to have originated with these high-protein powders rather than any fresh meat. 

Initially it was thought that the problem is limited to Ireland but within a few days more facilities were found which produced adulterated burgers and investigators extend their efforts and look to the UK, the Netherlands and Spain. The British Food Standards Agency announced yesterday that they initiated a sampling programme to investigate the authenticity, that is, the content compared with the label’s listed ingredients, of a range of meat products.

I wonder what would happen if someone here in North America - the paradise for meat burger lovers - would have a similar close look the patties.

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