Retailers take greater interest in meat origin testing
Published:  19 September, 2013

UK retailers are showing increased interest in geographical testing of meat products following the horsemeat scandal and recent mislabelling of a pork chop in Tesco.

The need to reassure consumers that their products are what they say they are has led to increased interest in Stable Isotope Reference Analysis (SIRA), according to service provider Longhand Isotopes.

The company has spent the last five years working with Bpex to create a UK database, which allows the SIRA testing to trace pork products back to their geographical area of production, and Longhand Isotopes’ MD Roger Young said location was a key question all retailers should be asking.

“There are four questions we should ask about our food, but we only ask two of them – we ask for it to be safe, and to be produced to a certain standard. But we don’t ask what it is, or where it is from. But, if you don’t know where something comes from, then you don’t know the other things either – is it safe, was it produced to the right standards – and in actual fact, what is it? So knowing the location is a big deal.”

He said the technology was tried and tested and routinely used by most German retailers, but the UK had been slow to adopt the systems. However, with recent events, interest had picked up and the big retailers were starting to look seriously at the SIRA system. “Retailers are starting to say, ‘Enough is enough’. It’s their names above the door.”

A spokesperson from The Co-operative said: “As part of our own authenticity testing programme, we use isotope analysis to verify the origin statements made on pack and, to date, no issues have been found in our fresh pork and bacon supply chains.”

While a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said it too already used isotope testing.

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