NZ meat: Everything but the horse

By Amelia Wade

DNA tests of cheap products show no horseflesh - but the content still provides some food for thought.

A selection of meat products. Photo / Greg Bowker
A selection of meat products. Photo / Greg Bowker

A range of meat products sold in New Zealand have tested negative for horsemeat, DNA tests show - but the content of some products would raise eyebrows.

Popular barbecue "sausages" Sizzlers contain three types of meat, despite only one listed in their ingredients.

The Herald had eight different meat products, both made locally and imported, tested by Environmental and Science Research (ESR) after the horsemeat scandal in Europe.

Hutton's Ham & Chicken luncheon, Home Brand Sausage Rolls, Arisiti Asian-style Meatballs, Wattie's Beef Lasagne, all packaged in New Zealand, Heinz Wattie's Sita Corned Beef Loaf, Sizzlers Original, both packaged in Australia, Pek Cured Chopped Pork, packaged in Poland and Princes 8 Hot Dogs, packaged in the UK, were all tested.

None were found to contain horsemeat.

But Sizzlers, which lists its first ingredient as "meat (including pork)" was found to contain cattle and chicken meat as well as pork.

A spokesman for Goodman Fielder, which manufactures Sizzlers, said the product complies with the strict regulatory food standards on labelling, specifically the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code.

"In addition to this, we voluntarily elaborate on the pork content in Sizzlers to ensure persons with specific religious considerations are aware that pork is a component of the product."

He said Sizzlers do not contain offal.

Manufacturers do not need to specify which meat types are in a product, as long as they identify it as "meat", without any further details, the Ministry of Primary Industries said.

However, if a product with only "meat" listed in its ingredients was found to contain a meat not commonly eaten in New Zealand - such as horse - it could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Alastair Stewart, said the claim of a breach of the act could be compounded if, for example, the "meat" product carried images of cows grazing.

Food transparency campaigner Sue Kedgley said laws regarding labelling needed to be stricter.

"It's an absolutely appalling loophole ... everyone wants to know what they're eating. Manufacturers shouldn't be trying to hide what is in their food, they should be absolutely honest with consumers."

Ms Kedgley said it should be "absolutely compulsory" that manufacturers be forced to include on their labels exactly what was in their products.

It was comforting, she said, that so few products sold in New Zealand hid behind the "meat loophole", but that it still shouldn't exist.

The horsemeat scandal in Europe has lifted the lid on industry labelling regulations and has helped inform consumers about what really goes into their food, Ms Kedgley said.

- NZ Herald

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