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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
BSE fears over chicken
The frozen chicken contains beef protein powder
Frozen chicken mixed with beef protein powder believed to possibly pose a BSE risk, is reportedly being consumed in Britain.

Proteins have been added to chicken breasts for years during processing in the Netherlands to make the meat absorb water.


It is very disturbing to find labels have been consistently incorrectly made

John Sandford
Senior trading standards officer

But DNA tests are only now sophisticated enough to spot the proteins, a senior trading standards officer, John Sandford, has told BBC News Online.

His comments came after Irish food safety authorities impounded meat as a result of finding foreign undeclared DNA in some Dutch chicken.

The study has raised fresh concerns over inaccurate labelling on some meat products.

The Guardian newspaper claims that chicken adulterated with beef protein powder - which authorities say could pose a risk of BSE - is still on sale in the UK.

But tests on chicken food samples conducted in the UK by local authorities and co-ordinated by the FSA, found traces of pork protein but not beef.

Misleading labelling

Mr Sandford said his concern was that the public got the right information on food labels about the products they were eating.

"It is very disturbing to find labels have been consistently incorrectly made.

"It is a great concern that animal proteins are also detected."

He said his experience was that such meat was produced for the takeaway industry.

The Hull City Council trading standards officer helped the UK's FSA co-ordinate a study of food samples by 20 local authorities last year.

Survey findings

The Irish Food Standards Agency (FSA) last month reported that half of its samples contained foreign DNA undeclared on the label.

Seven samples contained bovine DNA, seven pork DNA and three both.

Most also either failed to declare how much water was in them or had more water than the label claimed.

Andrew Reilly, deputy chief executive of the Irish FSA told the Guardian: "This amounts to blatant fraud.

"You can't call these products chicken fillets. We have no idea where this bovine material is coming from."

New technology

Mr Sandford told the BBC that it took "cutting-edge technology" to detect the full ingredients of these products.

But while the same brands highlighted in the Irish study may still be on sale in the UK, that did not mean that they all included undetected ingredients.

"I would like to see the labelling changed on those products that have been found to have undeclared additives," he said.

Trading standards officers have the power to prosecute companies for producing misleading labelling.


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23 May 02 | Health
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10 Jan 02 | UK
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