Meat traces found in Tesco & Sainsbury’s vegetarian meals

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11 Jun 2018 --- The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched an investigation after allegations that traces of meat were found in vegetarian and vegan ready meals from major supermarket chains, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Lab tests reportedly found traces of pork in Sainsbury's “meat free” meatballs and traces of turkey in a vegan macaroni ready meal from Tesco, an investigation by the Telegraph has revealed.

The results reportedly showed traces of pork DNA in Sainsbury's own brand Meat Free Meatballs and traces of turkey DNA in Tesco's Wicked Kitchen BBQ Butternut Mac ready meal, which is labeled as being vegan.

An FSA spokesperson says: “Our priority is to ensure consumers can be confident that the food they eat is safe and is what it says it is.”

“We are investigating the circumstances surrounding these alleged incidents and any resulting action will depend upon the evidence found.”

The Sainsbury's item has been approved by the Vegetarian Society, which means it has been independently checked.

Both supermarkets have said their own tests had not found any meat traces.

In light of the news, revealed over the weekend, The Vegan Society issued a statement saying: “The Telegraph tested samples at a German government accredited food testing facility and were found to contain trace amounts of animal DNA. Both retailers are conducting investigations and Tesco said that their own initial DNA tests showed no sign of animal products.” 

Click to EnlargeNeither of the products are registered with The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark that confirms that a product is suitable for vegans following thorough checks of its ingredients, non-declarables and production processes.

“The Vegan Society acknowledges that we live in a non-vegan world and, as a result, cross-contamination is always a possibility even, as in the case of one of these products, in a meat-free factory, as the supply chain can introduce a contaminated product,” says the statement. 

Farzad Henareh, VP Commercial & Business Development, Stericycle Expert Solutions sent a statement to FoodIngredientsFirst: “Although on the face of it, this looks alarming, the silver lining is that these contaminated food products are being flagged. But that is only the first step. To protect the public, retailers must have the proper protocols to remove these items from shelves – and consumers themselves must take action to keep them off their dinner plates.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We take the quality and integrity of our products extremely seriously and understand that our vegan and vegetarian products should be exactly that.”

“Our initial DNA tests have found no traces of animal DNA in the BBQ Butternut Mac product available in stores today.”

“We would urge the Telegraph to share full details of their testing, including the lab used as we continue to investigate.”

A Sainsbury's spokesperson noted: “These products are produced at a meat-free factory. Sainsbury's and the Vegetarian Society also carry out regular checks and no issues have been found.”

“We are concerned by these findings however and are carrying out a comprehensive investigation alongside our supplier.”

 “We would urge the Telegraph to share full details of their testing, including the lab used as we continue to investigate.”