South African supermarket meat tested
Town – News24 has had samples of meat taken from various retailers
tested in a genetics lab. Here’s what we found: South Africans can relax
a little regarding the scandal that found traces of horse and water
buffalo in local meat supplies.
A test of popular meat from major retailers found no trace of exotic meat, unlike what was described by a senior researcher recently.
mislabelling of processed meats is commonplace in South Africa and not
only violates food labelling regulations, but also poses economic,
religious, ethical and health impacts,” said Professor Louw Hoffman of
the Department of Animal Sciences at Stellenbosch University recently.
News24 took samples of boerewors, mince, beef patties and sausage from
Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Shoprite and Spar for genetic testing and the
result was that the label was fairly consistent with the contents of the
“I think a lot of the reason for the publication by
[Professor Louw Hoffman] and the Food Lab was lost in the sensation of
it,” Dr MP Marx managing director of Unistel Medical Laboratories told
He emphasised that the labelling was a bigger issue than the contents of the products.
he [Hoffman] actually said was the problem he had was not actually the
meat that was contained in the products. It was the lack of
correspondence between the label and the products in the meat,” said
The results show that the Namakwa Boerewors and Beef
Burgers from Pick n Pay; the Beef Mince and Beef Bangers from
Woolworths; the Chakalaka Boerewors and Beef Burgers from Spar that were
labelled as beef was correct as far as the genetic testing was able to
The Shoprite Championship Boerewors and Beef Hamburgers
contained traces of beef and pork, but that was largely consistent with
the label on the packaging.
News24 also had Enterprise French
Polony and I&J Beef Patties tested. These proved to be consistent
with the package labelling with pork and chicken in the former and the
latter consisting of beef.
Marx said that people who are allergic
check the labels for accuracy and there are also religious beliefs that
dictate the choice of meat consumed.
“If what is in the product doesn’t correspond to the label, then that’s where the problem is,” Marx said.
conceded that a retailer might import processed foods that may contain
exotic ingredients such as kangaroo or water buffalo, but argued that
major retail chains in SA would not want to expose themselves to the
“I think the reputable stores… it can damage them too
much if they get caught doing that [importing meat from dubious
The Unistel test could not identify the percentages of
the ingredients, nor could it identify how much plant material such as
soya is included in the meat.
For most processed meats though, the label indicates the presence of soya.
said that consumers should pay close attention to the label and the
texture of the meat to try and ensure that it is acceptable.
very important to have a look at the label, and make sure that what you
see in the package is what is on the label. Have a look at your meat
and make sure that it looks like meat.”