Injected chicken shock

Religious groups have responded furiously to revelations that restaurants across Britain have been unwittingly selling chicken injected with beef and pork proteins.

A Food Standards Agency (FSA) study into injection powders - used to retain water in chicken breast products for the catering trade - has revealed that some powders claiming to only contain chicken protein also have traces of pork and beef. The injection powders tested were not produced by UK processors themselves, but by factories in other EU countries.

The deception means that thousands of restaurants, including ethnic outlets, could have bought and served chicken injected with these powders without realising that it contained traces of beef and pork.

The news has horrified British Muslims, Jews and Hindus, who avoid pork and beef for religious reasons. Bharti Tailor, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, who described the findings as "shocking and distressing" said: "The fact that Hindus will have been eating beef-contaminated chickens will be mentally agonising."

Masood Khawaja, president of the Halal Food Authority (HFA), said: "This is a despicable situation. The industry outside the UK is taking liberties with people's inclinations and faith."

The FSA study, which used new scientific techniques to detect proteins missed by DNA testing, is the latest in a line of investigations into chicken injection powders.

"This is an ongoing saga, a never-ending situation" said Khawaja, who welcomed the FSA study but pointed out that the Agency originally detected pork and beef proteins in chicken back in 2001. "A long time passed but nothing much has changed," he said.

"We are imploring the FSA to muster all the power and strength it has to take this situation to the EU and get a judgment to put the perpetrators out of business."

The FSA said it has informed the European Commission of the results of its investigation and is planning to have further meetings with the Commission and the relevant member states to address the issue in more depth.

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