When the horse meat scandal hit the headlines in Britain in the middle of January, it took British retailers exactly 24 hours to publicly announce the withdrawal of tainted products from their shelves.
This Tuesday, the University of Stellenbosch made public its findings on tainted meat products in South Africa.
Anything from soya, donkey, goat and water buffalo were found in up to 68% of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats tested.
These ingredients were not declared on the products’ packaging labels, the study found.
The researchers said it was clear consumers could generally not accept that the meat products they buy are correctly labelled.
The worrying thing for South African consumers is the limp-wristed response from the meat industry and retailers about these findings.
There has been no announcement from these bodies on what they intend doing and whether they have removed any meat products from their shelves, or an assurance that they have adequate quality checks in place.
This is nothing new for South African consumers, who are treated as walking wallets with no opinion or rights.
We have a right to know what’s in our food, whether for religious, cultural, health or personal reasons. Our retailers and producers should step up and be honest about their products.