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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
New labels stop meat cheats
Sausages
Shops will have to reveal the amount of fat in sausages
Shops are being ordered to have clear labels showing customers the meat content in sausages and burgers.

Until now, traders could include fat and gristle in their calculations for how much meat was in their products.

But tough new guidelines will mean labels must no longer refer to this content as meat.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) for England has unveiled the proposals to make it easier for consumers to see exactly what they are buying.

Meat counter
The rules are to improve consumer choice

Only flesh with permitted levels of gristle, cartilage and fat will count as meat in the list of ingredients.

Animal fat, gristle and skin, in excess of these levels will now have to be shown as separate to the meat.

Offal, which is sometimes included in economy brands used in catering, will no longer be listed as meat.

According to one example from the FSA, a burger previously labelled as containing 82% beef actually had only 71% meat - with the remaining content being fat and gristle.

In future, the label would only be able to claim 71% meat.


It seems sensible that meat is what you and I think of as meat

David Statham, of the FSA

David Statham, director of enforcement and food standards at the FSA, said: "If I buy a cut of meat I expect it to have some fat and maybe some gristle.

"What I don't expect to have is extra fat added over and above that and called meat.

"The vast majority of our sausages will not only be protected but they will have the right amount of meat and real meat in them.

"That has got to be good for the consumer."

He added: "It seems sensible that meat is what you and I think of as meat."

Some brands of processed burgers and sausages may no longer be able to describe themselves as such, if their revised meat content is below a certain level.

Food critic Nigel Barden said: "In the light of the food scandals of the last few years, the more information the better.

"Whether shoppers take much notice of it is up to them."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"The new rules mean you will be able to see from the label exactly what you are eating"
David Statham, Food Standards Agency
"The vast majority of our sausages will be protected"
See also:

30 Jul 02 | Business
24 Apr 02 | Business
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