Food Law News - UK - 1999

31 March 1999: SURVEILLANCE - Mixed Results in Food Surveys


MAFF News Release (117/99), 31 March 1999

Mixed Results in Food Surveys

In food surveys published today there was good news for retailers of orange juice but some manufacturers were urged to improve their labelling of meat products.

The two individual food surveys were conducted as part of MAFF's ongoing food surveillance programme. One looked at the quality of UK orange juice while the other examined labelling claims about meat species contained in meat products.

Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker said:
"Consumers will welcome the significant improvement in the quality of UK orange juice. It demonstrates the importance of the Ministry's surveillance and research programmes, which both monitor food supplies and advance the techniques used to check them. I am pleased to see that the UK industry has taken the steps necessary to correct earlier problems.

No evidence of adulteration was found in any of the 186 orange juice products sampled from the UK retail market in 1997 and 1998. This is in marked contrast to previous MAFF surveys on orange juice. In 1990, 16 out of 21 samples had been extended illegally by the addition of sugar, malic acid or extracts from the washing of orange pulp. In 1991, 7 out of 98 samples failed to comply with the relevant legislation.

This welcome improvement in the quality of UK orange juice can be attributed to MAFF's surveillance programme on food authenticity which has caused industry to carry out more effective checks on supplies. New analytical tests have been developed in MAFF-funded research and these have been used both by enforcement bodies and by industry.

Meanwhile, a total of 570 different meat products have been analysed to determine how the labelling of meat species present compared with the species declared on the label. Products sampled included burgers, sausages, pies, pates and recipe dishes.

Jeff Rooker added:
"The meat products survey showed that full and accurate labelling is vitally important to enable consumers to exercise their right to choose which products to buy. I am pleased to see that the majority of manufacturers are taking care to label their products correctly. Those who don't, must make sure that they improve their standards in this area and make greater efforts to ensure that processing is properly controlled. "

In over 85 per cent of samples tested the meat species detected were found to match the information given on the label. However nearly 15 per cent (83 out of 570 samples) were found to contain, in varying amounts, species of meat which were not declared on the label. The full results of this survey have been passed to the relevant local authorities.

The production and labelling of orange juice is controlled by the Fruit Juices and Fruit Nectars Regulations 1977 (as amended), the Miscellaneous Food Additives Regulations (1995) and the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. Survey samples were collected in February, June and September 1997 and February 1998 by 13 local authorities in the UK. The survey was part of MAFF's continuing surveillance programme and was not an enforcement exercise.

The declaration of meat species in meat products is controlled by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. Survey samples were collected in January 1998 by local authorities from 17 regions in the UK. The survey was part of MAFF's continuing surveillance programme and was not an enforcement exercise. The results could not be used as evidence in a prosecution but where mis-described samples were found enforcement authorities and suppliers have been informed for follow-up action.

The results of both surveys will be published in the April 1999 issue of the MAFF Food Safety Information Bulletin. A Food Surveillance Information Sheet is available from Publicity and Information Section, Room 303b, Ergon House, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1 3JR.


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