Leeds: Testing helps us clamp down on ‘fake food’ sellers

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A LEEDS based scientist, whose findings have sparked a new ‘fake food’ debate a year on from the horse meat scandal, says that shoppers in our region should still feel confident about what they put in their shopping baskets.

Dr Duncan Campbell, based at West Yorkshire Analytical Services in Morley, works in partnership with organisations like Trading Standards as part of an an umbrella project co-funded by the five West Yorkshire councils.

His team’s most recent round of regular food monitoring found that 38 per cent of food samples tested were not what they were advertised, or were mislabelled in some way.

Problems included mozzarella that was less than 50 per cent cheese, ham on pizzas made from “meat emulsion” and prawns which were 50 per cent water.

However Dr Campbell told the YEP the figures should not be interpreted as meaning that a third of people’s shopping baskets contain tainted food.

Speaking of the findings - which involved 900 items from unnamed sources and suppliers across West Yorkshire - he said: “It’s not random [testing]. It’s targeted and it’s intelligence led.

“There isn’t any bigger problem in West Yorkshire that in other urban areas. But there is little analyis going on in those areas.

“It’s good for us, because citizens in other areas are not being protected from businesses who are cutting corners and not getting caught.”

He added, however, that proposed budget cuts could potentially affect the number of tests and food inspections being done in the region.

We asked the YEP’s online readers whether they had more consumer confidence in processed foods than a year ago, when the horse meat scandal broke. One reader, Mick Lucani, said: “Dont buy processed meals. Fresh is best. If more [people] learned to cook a bit, they could eat really well for a fraction of the cost.”

See Consumerwatch in Style for more on Dr Campbell’s findings, and reaction from consumer campaigners.

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