​Is It British? FSA Probes into Pork's True Origin

​Is It British? FSA Probes into Pork's True Origin

Posted by Emily on 5th Apr 2023

Farmers Weekly has revealed that a prominent UK food manufacturer allegedly supplied supermarkets with sometimes off-quality meat.

Pig farm Vampula 9 kallerna, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

According to recent findings, major supermarkets might have been selling pork from overseas, incorrectly labelled as British. This revelation comes from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) investigating potential supply chain fraud.

Farmers Weekly's investigative efforts have unveiled that, up to the close of 2020, one of Britain's foremost food producers had been retailing misbranded and occasionally spoilt meat.

Products like ready meals, quiches, sandwiches, and other items available in Tesco, Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, and Marks & Spencer are said to contain meat from this manufacturer. The research indicates that vast amounts of overseas pork, wrongfully branded as British, infiltrated the supply chain every week.

Former staff of the processing company, which the FSA has yet to disclose, allege that the firm routinely soaked tainted hams in saltwater. Moreover, it's accused of blending deteriorating pork with fresh batches for subsequent processing.

Darren Davies, leading the FSA's National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), commented, "We're delving into a criminal inquiry about how a supplier reportedly furnished items tagged as British, even though their origins were different. It's an ongoing, intricate investigation. We're probing new leads alongside our partner entities, including potential hygiene violations on site. If we unearth any food safety concerns, prompt measures will ensue."

He added that retailers had been previously informed to check their meat supply chain thoroughly. Davies highlighted the urgency of these directives, stating they aren't issued without just cause. He refrained from naming the supplier to avoid hampering potential court proceedings.

Schweinebauch-2 Rainer Zenz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In light of the current cost-of-living crunch, Davies cautioned that food fraud might surge as suppliers grapple with profit margins. Emphasising the regulator's role, he said, "Being the final safeguard, we urge everyone in the food sector to maintain heightened alertness to ensure food authenticity and safety."

Representing the implicated supermarkets, the British Retail Consortium articulated, "The FSA collaborates with retailers to thwart fraud. We can't comment on an active investigation, but retailers will back the FSA's probe into the said supplier."

Marks & Spencer clarified that they had no dealings with the implicated supplier, emphasising the rigorous testing protocols they have in place and asserting that neither they nor their suppliers are under the NFCU's scanner.

Farmers Weekly opined that British farmers had been unjustly affected due to the misbranded meat and advocated for stricter regulations to avoid such incidents in the future.

The publication's editor, Andrew Meredith, remarked, "In times when trade agreements potentially ease import flow, safeguarding the authenticity of local produce is paramount. While we can't force consumers to exclusively purchase British, they should be confidently assured of receiving genuine products when they opt for it."

Sources:

  1. Fraud inquiry launched after foreign pork allegedly sold as British
  2. Fraud probe launched into claims meat falsely labelled British
  3. Probe into meat 'falsely labelled' as British at supermarkets
  4. Exclusive: Mass food fraud and safety scandal engulfs sector
  5. Editor's view: Meat trade duping us daily and that must end
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