Doubts cast over processed meat products

Consumers are not confident that processed meat products contain the species labelled.

In a survey by Leatherhead Food Research, which asked consumers to rank their confidence that the food they buy actually contains the species indicated on a scale of one to 10, meat-based chilled and frozen ready meals performed poorly, with an average score of 5.6.

Processed goods from local butchers scored highly (7.9), beating processed meat from supermarkets, which scored 6.8 on the scale.

There was more trust for unprocessed meats, with local butchers again faring well in the survey, receiving a confidence rating of 8.6 for unprocessed meat products, ahead of supermarkets and farmers markets which scored 7.5 and 7.7 respectively.

Dr Monee Shamsher, research scientist at Leatherhead Food Research, said work needs to be done to reassure consumers about what they are eating.

An assertive, proactive and transparent response is required to tackle confidence issues for consumers. That means acknowledging the risk of food fraud, and demonstrating that decisive measures are being taken to combat the problem. Communicating this publicly is one way to show consumers that the industry has their best interests at heart, and it could also play a vital role in deterring fraudsters.

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