Johannesburg - Popular supermarkets including Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Woolworths and Spar have responded to a City Press report that identified them as stocking incorrectly labelled meat products.
The newspaper reported that the retailers had largely suggested that the findings could be blamed on cross-contamination, where one type of meat was transferred to another on chopping boards, saws, hands and utensils. Woolworths said in statement: "From all the Woolworths products
tested, we’re told that only our French polony contained trace chicken DNA that
was not labelled. We are looking into this. We believe that the traces of
chicken DNA in our French polony are due to cross contact during production and
not due to deliberate adulteration."
"Even with thorough cleaning, it may
be possible to find minute traces of chicken DNA since the polony is processed
in the same factory that uses chicken as an ingredient."
The company said it remained vigilant and would continue to monitor its processes closely. Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson said there was not "intentional adulteration to mislead consumers".
Of 32 Shoprite and Checkers products tested, 20 were wrongly labelled.
Basson said some of the findings did not make sense.
butcher in his right mind would intentionally add a small percentage of
lamb, which costs more per kilogram, to a pure beef sausage, which is
PicknPay food director Peter Arnold said the quantities
of undeclared animal products found in the Stellenbosch study were
He said there was an international threshold that meat
could contain one percent of an undeclared product to allow for
Spar group merchandise executive Mike
Prentice said labelling needed to be "tightened up" and the industry as a
whole needed to "jack itself up".
Trade and industry department spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said an investigation into meat labelling was underway.
Alliance MP Annette Steyn said that in light of the meat label study, a
food agency should be established which would inspect meat and other
products and regulate and enforce certain codes of practice.
said during a meeting last month between the portfolio committes of
agriculture, forestry and fisheries, health and trade and industry, an
agreement "in principle" was reached to form such a food agency.
Steyn said in a statement that she would follow up what was happening in terms of implementing the agreement.
mislabelling of products not only has possible health implications, but
it has the potential to undermine the reputation of South African
exports and cost our economy jobs," she said.
A University of Stellenbosch study found that nearly 60% of 139 products tested contained ingredients which were not listed on their labels, including donkey, water buffalo, goat and pork.
Louw Hoffman, the scientist behind the study, said the study had proved that the mislabelling of processed meats was "commonplace in South Africa.
"(The mislabelling) not only violates food-labelling regulations, but poses economic, religious, ethical and health impacts," he told The City Press.
The study examined meat products sourced from shops across Gauteng, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.