20% of Tested Sausages Contained Mislabeled Meat: U of G study

20% of Tested Sausages Contained Mislabeled Meat: U of G study

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, noting, 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.

 

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