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British meat to be tested for country of origin

Bpex is developing a revolutionary scientific test dubbed a ‘nuclear deterrent’ to suppliers trying to pass cheap meat imports off as British.

Under ‘Project Isotope’, the meat body is working on a test that will be able to accurately pinpoint where in the UK a piece of pigmeat was produced.

Initially it will be used to establish whether meat is British or imported, but in the long term it will be able to identify the specific country of origin of meat products.

Although similar methods are already used on fruit, it is thought to be the first time in Europe such a test has been adapted for use on meat. The test can be applied to bacon, sausages, ham, pork pies and other processed products as well as fresh pork cuts, giving Bpex a powerful weapon in its assurance arsenal.

“We are aware of a number of abuses that have taken place in terms of suppliers substituting imported product and calling it British,” said a source close to the project.

The source said Bpex hoped to use the technology to spot-check processors as part of the Quality Standard testing and that it could inform customers of anyone found to have mislabelled meat.The test was intended to catch out suppliers rather than retailers, he said.

Researchers are currently trialling the approach with a view to launching the test by the summer. The technique works by analysing isotopes from groundwater that have permeated the animal’s body and helped create a unique profile within the meat. Analysts can then compare this against a map of known profiles on its database. Industry sources said the technique was 99.9% accurate and researchers hope to have proved its effectiveness shortly.

“We understand that not everything supplied can be British, but openly telling lies is something else altogether,” added the source.

“However, we won’t go public on the results because we don’t want consumers to lose confidence in British-labelled meat.”

Source: The Grocer – William Reed Business Media UK

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