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Panorama
Beef traces found in chicken
Chicken processing
Chicken fillets can be pumped full of water
The chicken you are eating could have been injected with beef or pork protein.

That is the claim that will be made by BBC One's Panorama programme on Thursday after a six month investigation into the chicken processing industry in Holland.

Tests carried out for the programme reveal that beef or pork DNA has been found in chicken, including products which are being sold as Halal meat.

It will also reveal that meat processors have been deliberately pumping chicken full of water - and even beef protein - in an effort to make them look bigger, with some Dutch sourced chicken fillets containing as much as 50% added water.

Additives

The practice of injecting chicken with water and proteins is not illegal, as long as it is accurately labelled.

It is also not illegal to inject beef and pork proteins into chicken, as long as they are labelled as "hydrolised proteins".

These proteins are added to the chicken to allow the meat to retain more water.

All of the companies featured in the film deny using beef or pork protein in this process, with some denying they use additives, and the rest insisting they use hydrolised protein made from chickens.

However, one German protein company has been caught on film boasting about how it has developed a method of breaking down the DNA in the proteins so that no traces of beef or pork can be found.

Responsibility

Theo Hietbrink
Prowico's Theo Hietbrink spoke to Panorama
Panorama captured a director of the company Prowico, saying that some of his proteins are guaranteed to be "PCR negative".

PCR is the test that authorities use to find DNA from different species of animals.

Theo Hietbrink, of Prowico, told the programme that at least 12 companies were using this new brand of untraceable hydrolised proteins.

However, a spokesman for the company said it has never sold on additives without declaring their contents, adding that declaring the contents on the actual chicken is the responsibility of the processors.

It added that it made PCR-negative proteins so they could be very pure, not so that it can beat any tests.

Action

Earlier in the year, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) announced that many frozen chicken breasts imported to the UK contained added protein designed to retain water and make the meat appear more substantial.

David Walker, a spokesperson for the TSI, said that something needs to be done to stop the practice of adulterating chicken.

He said: "It is clear that some brands of imported frozen chicken meat continue to be adulterated.

"The time for action is long overdue. Trading standards officers will continue to take action against importers, who have a moral and legal obligation to check the quality of the food they sell."

Panorama: The Chicken Run will be broadcast on Thursday, 22 May 2003 at 21:00 BST on BBC One.

The Chicken Run

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