Meat
Consumer watchdog finds meat sold across EU contains less or different kind of meat than labelled.Getty Images

A consumer watchdog has revealed that meat sold across the European Union contains less or different kind of meat than that labelled on the products. Several additives are present in commonly sold meat, including water and sulphites in mince beef, according to a report by the European Consumer Organisation BEUC.

"If we are serious about rebuilding confidence in meat, EU member states need to beef up controls and make sure labels are complete and accurate," said Monique Goyens, BEUC director, in a statement. "Consumers buying roast pork or grilled sausages should know from the label how much meat they really contain. No one wants to buy water for the price of meat."

Horse meat was found in burgers in place of beef leading to a major recall in 2013. The present situation with incorrect labels commonly found across supermarket shelves once again highlights the 2013 scandal.

Recently concerns have also been raised over illegal food additives, undeclared mechanically-separated meat, and other false substitutes commonly being used in meat. The findings have highlighted the need to better tackle food fraud and conduct more thorough EU checks.

Following the earlier horse meat scandal, Professor Chris Elliot's report on fraud in the food industry found that price wars between supermarkets are partly to blame for the increased risk of contamination of cheap food. He called on retailers compromising on quality over price for cheap supplies as a crime, and said the government needs to adopt a zero tolerance approach to food fraud.

"British farmers are very proud of what they produce and are, quite rightly, furious about this current situation. They feel let down by what looks like a criminal element in an isolated part of the food chain," said the National Farmers Union (NFU) President, Peter Kendall.

"This gives me confidence that fresh, British meat should remain top of the shopping list. And I'm not alone. Anecdotal evidence from Eblex suggests that demand for assured quality beef remains robust and that consumers are increasingly looking for assurance marks when they are buying food."