It was only a matter of time before South Africa was drawn into the European horse meat scandal, albeit over donkey meat.
A study conducted by the Stellenbosch University’s Department of Animal Sciences and the Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services in Milnerton revealed that anything from soya, donkey, goat and water buffalo were to be found in up to 68% of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats that were tested. In other cases, even undeclared plant matter was detected.
The report did however fail to name the products, brands and retailers whose meat products were tested, simply saying that the products tested were collected from supermarkets and butchers.
The major South African retailers who have been contacted for comment include Pick’n Pay, Woolworths and Shoprite.
Both Pick’n Pay and Woolworths reassured customers that none of their products have been contaminated and that everything is declared correctly on the label.
The Cape Argus contacted Tamra Veley, speaking on behalf of Pick n Pay, who said:
Pick n Pay has very strict quality control measures in place, which includes supplier warranties, spot checks by our team of food technologists and spot DNA testing.
We’d like to reassure our customers that what they read on the label is reflected in the products they buy at Pick n Pay. We have and will continue to work tirelessly to protect consumer rights in the market place.
Woolworths drew a line in the sand denying any contamination saying,
Woolworths is not affected by the recent incidents of contamination.
We have steps in place to ensure the integrity of our food, namely: we work with specific producers who share our values, we specify our product recipes and, for critical raw materials such as meat, we specify which sources our suppliers are allowed to source from… To verify the effectiveness of these controls we perform random checks, such as DNA testing.
In addition, all Woolworths suppliers are audited independently by various inspection services and are visited regularly by the Woolworths technical team to ensure that the highest standards are maintained.
Shoprite was a little more circumspect with Group Chief Executive Whitey Basson saying:
We do not believe that any of our suppliers, who are reputable companies, would transgress food standards and labelling regulations, but should any of these suppliers be implicated in the study, Shoprite will penalise them in the strongest terms.
He also said that Shoprite used DNA analysis to test its meat.
We await details from the creators of the report as to which products were contaminated and where they were purchased from.
Read More: Donkey Meat Scandal South Africa
Download the full report: A high incidence of species substitution and mislabelling detected in meat products sold in South Africa