One in five UK meat samples tested contain DNA from unspecified animals
Five years on from the horsemeat scandal in 2013, information obtained by the BBC from the FSA in the UK has shown a fifth of tested meat samples contain unspecified animal DNA.

One fifth of meat samples taken across the UK in 2017 contained DNA from animals not on the labelling according to the BBC.

Out of 665 samples tested from 487 businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), 145 were partly or wholly made up of unspecified meat.

Deliberate inclusion

The FSA said the levels were consistent with “deliberate inclusion” meaning the levels of unnamed DNA in the samples were greater than 1%. Below this level, contamination could be caused by poor hygiene. However, the agency did add that businesses with "compliance issues" had been targeted.

Out of the 145 contaminated samples, 73 came from retailers, 50 came from restaurants and 22 from processing plants. A spokesperson for the FSA said the results were "not representative of the wider food industry".

This new data comes five years after the horsemeat scandal in 2013, but none of the 2017 samples contained horsemeat.


The BBC also said some of the tests showed:

  • Some samples contained DNA from as many as four different animals, while others contained no trace of the meat that appeared on the product's label.
  • Meat labelled as lamb was most likely to contain traces of other animals' DNA, followed by beef and goat.
  • Cow DNA was the most commonly-found contaminant, followed by pig, chicken, sheep and turkey.

  • The most commonly mislabelled product was mincemeat, while sausages, kebabs and restaurant curries also featured prominently.
  • Other products in the dataset include ready meals such as spaghetti bolognese, curries, pizzas and a portion of ostrich meat, which contained only beef.
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