Foul play uncovered in SA processed meat industry
By Lloyd Phillips

A recent study by meat scientists from Stellenbosch University revealed that there is significant fraudulent labelling of meat products on the South African market.

The Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) said it had noted with extreme concern the findings of a study that was published in the international Food Control journal. The study was done by Dr Donna-Maree Cawthorn and Prof Louw Hoffman of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Animal Sciences, along with Harris Steinman of the Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services in Milnerton.

The study revealed that, among others, donkey, goat, water buffalo and soya beans were to be found in up to 68% of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats that were tested. These ingredients were not declared on the products’ packaging labels.

Dave Ford, chairperson of the RMIF said he believed that it was incumbent on Hoffman and his colleagues, “if they possess un-controvertible factual evidence, to report the transgressors to the relevant authorities for investigation.” Ford said the RMIF previously reported an unscrupulous Cape Town importer to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)and the National Prosecuting Authority but nothing came of it. “It was at this stage that the RMIF successfully took legal steps to interdict this importer,” Ford said.

The South African National Consumer Union (Sancu), meanwhile said, “SA is in dire need of better policing and sufficient inspectors to go out and inspect products on a regular basis not only when a complaint is received,” said Ann Goslin, executive officer of Sancu. “We would certainly like to see the culprits brought to book if they are contravening the labelling regulations,” Goslin said. DAFF said earlier cases were refered to the Department of Health. 

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