You sure you know what’s in that sausage?

One in five sausages tested con­tains meat not listed on la­bel

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - LIAM CASEY

A fed­er­ally funded study has found that 20 per cent of sausages sam­pled from gro­cery stores across Canada con­tained meats that weren’t on the la­bel.

The study, pub­lished this week in the jour­nal Food Con­trol, was con­ducted by re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Guelph and com­mis­sioned by the Cana­dian Food In­spec­tion Agency.

It ex­am­ined 100 sausages that were la­belled as con­tain­ing just one in­gre­di­ent — beef, pork, chicken or turkey.

“About one in five of the sausages we tested had some off-la­bel in­gre­di­ents in them, which is alarm­ing,” said Robert Han­ner, lead au­thor of the study and an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor with the Bio­di­ver­sity In­sti­tute of On­tario at the Univer­sity of Guelph.

The CFIA reached out to Han­ner for the study af­ter the Euro­pean horse meat scan­dal in 2013, where food la­belled as beef was found to have horse meat. In some cases, beef was com­pletely sub­sti­tuted by horse meat.

The goal of the study, the fed­eral food reg­u­la­tor said, was to ex­am­ine sci­en­tific meth­ods used by Han­ner to see if the CFIA could use them in its reg­u­la­tory prac­tices. The sci­en­tific tools showed promis­ing re­sults, the CFIA said.

Seven of 27 beef sausages ex­am­ined in the study con­tained pork. One of 38 sup­pos­edly pure pork sausages con­tained horse meat. Of 20 chicken sausages, four also con­tained turkey and one also had beef. Five of the 15 turkey sausages stud­ied con­tained no turkey at all — they were en­tirely chicken.

None of the sausages ex­am­ined con­tained more than one other type of meat in ad­di­tion to the meat the sausage was meant to con­tain, Han­ner said. He noted, how­ever, that re­searchers were only test­ing for turkey, chicken, pork, beef and horse.

“The good news is that typ­i­cally beef sausages pre­dom­i­nantly con­tain beef, but some of them also con­tain pork, so for our kosher and ha­lal con­sumers, that is a bit dis­con­cert­ing,” Han­ner said.

The un­de­clared meats found weren’t trace lev­els, Han­ner noted.

“The lev­els we’re see­ing aren’t be­cause the blades on a grinder aren’t per­fectly clean,” he said, adding that many of the un­de­clared in­gre­di­ents found in the sausages were recorded in the one-to-five per cent range.

More than one per cent of un­de­clared in­gre­di­ents in­di­cates a break­down in food pro­cess­ing or in­ten­tional food fraud, Han­ner ex­plained.

The CFIA said Thurs­day that it was not sur­prised at the re­sults of the study.

“We know from in­ter­na­tional in­tel­li­gence that this hap­pens and we’re not im­mune to th­ese things,” said Aline Dim­itri, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of food safety science with the CFIA.” Luck­ily when we looked at the preva­lence based on that lit­tle set that we took, we are in much bet­ter shape than other coun­tries.”

The 20 per cent mis­la­belling rate is low com­pared to Europe, where stud­ies have found 70 per cent of sam­ples con­tained in­gre­di­ents that were not de­clared.

The CFIA in­ves­ti­gated all 20 cases of mis­la­belled sausages and in the case of the chicken la­belled as turkey, it was able to find is­sues with a man­u­fac­turer’s “trace­abil­ity pro­gram” — in­com­ing meat and pro­duc­tion records were not prop­erly main­tained, Dim­itri said.

That prob­lem was fixed, she said, but the CFIA is keep­ing tabs on the com­pany. The horse meat found in one sausage couldn’t be in­ves­ti­gated be­cause the com­pany had vol­un­tar­ily ceased oper­a­tions.

TOM LYNN, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

One of 38 sup­pos­edly pure pork sausages tested con­tained horse meat. Five of 15 turkey sausages con­tained no turkey — they were chicken.

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