We don’t intend to lie, say retailers, it’s mostly a mistake

2013-04-15 00:00

RETAILERS and butchers whose products fell foul in food labelling tests have mostly blamed cross-contamination for unlabelled meat contents showing up in their products.

Woolworths, which performed best of the major retailers, said it has stringent policies and processes to ensure the integrity of its food, and that the company only worked with producers whom it had vetted.

Spar group merchandise executive Mike Prentice said he was pleased that no Spar products contained any exotic meats and said Spar had no malicious intent to defraud or mislead the public.

He admitted that the labelling of products needed to be “tightened up” and that the whole industry needed to “jack itself up”.

Pick n Pay’s food director Peter Arnold said the retailer had commissioned 700 independent scientific tests over the past few weeks and all had proved negative, and that internationally there was a one percent tolerance level for “undeclared products” in a product to compensate for cross-contamination.

Fruit and Veg City — also the proprietor of Food Lovers Market — said it was investigating how exotic water buffalo landed up in their meat and threatened to ban the supplier from future trade

Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson said the presence of undeclared meat in certain products was due to the use of shared equipment and utensils in butcheries rather than “intentional adulteration to mislead consumers”.

All the independent butchers affected in the study who were contacted by Media24 Investigations said they used the same implements to process multiple species on their premises, and that traces may remain on mincers and saws.

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