VEGA News Item

A Big Mince-up over Analysis, The Fat is Now Regulating the Fire - 11/08/2010

The Local Government Authority says that consumers “face a lottery” when buying minced beef

1.  The Local Government Authority says that consumers “face a lottery” when buying minced beef: an LGA report has found a variance in mince fat from 1.8% to 33.6%.

2.  According to Trevor Gray, principle officer with West Yorkshire Trading Standards, the authority designated to work with ASDA, “some retailers are acting on the report and created waves in the industry.”

3.  Mince content is being amended by major retailers in order to prevent overall guidelines being drawn up over the sale of mince. The LGA has recommended that the Association of Public Analysts (APA) works alongside councils and industry to draw up new recommendations for major retailers. As the arguments build up ASDA has called on the LGA to release more details on the products tested and has suggested that the tests were not consistent across all councils. An ASDA spokesman said: “In our own tests, the most recent from last night, our minced beef conforms to the fat content guidelines set by the LGA.” The LGA has admitted, within the last week or so, that it did not have the specific results of the individual samples. “It’s not our role to look at what was bought,” said an LGA spokesman. “Each supermarket group has a designated ‘home authority’ or Trading Standards division. We collated the results from the respective home authorities. We’ve not just gone out and bought a few packs of mince.”

4.  Communication between Asda and West Yorkshire Trading Standards is also strained, according to the Meat Trades Journal (06 August 2010). “Gray expressed surprise that Asda had gone public with its demands for more details on products tested, effectively conducting the argument through the media, when his department was in constant talks and regular correspondence with the retailer.” “They can come to us direct, that’s what we’re here for,” he added.

5.  The LGA survey criticized the varying amounts of fat in supermarket mince, along with some misleading product descriptions and inaccurate labelling information, found in 500 samples taken from 9 supermarket groups. The overall fat content of minced beef varied widely, from the lowest at 1.8% to the highest at 33.6%, with an average of 27% more fat than was suggested on the labels.

6.  VEGA will be increasing its Portfolio of Eating Plans with recipes and menus pitching the relative costs and nutritional values of textured vegetable protein against comparable meals based on beef mince and other comparable products that might catch the Food Standards Agency’s eye. The damning report described above illustrates just how far the labelling statements and claims have to go and to tighten up the control over these matters before the Food Standards Agency’s stipulations are being met. Contents of fat and salt have been in contention for many years already.


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