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Researchers Find Horse Meat and Other Undeclared Species in Products Labeled Ground Beef

by Julie Fidler, Natural Society:

Most people don’t give much thought into what is in a package of ground beef, but 2 shocking new studies conducted by Chapman University researchers show that what the labels on meat products say and what consumers actually consume are sometimes very different things.

One study focused on identification of species found in ground meat products, while the other zeroed in on game meat species labeling. All of the products examined were sold on the U.S. commercial market. Researchers found examples of species mishandling in both studies.

For the study, researchers collected a total of 48 fresh and frozen ground meat products representing a variety of species and tested them using a combination of DNA barcoding and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The scientists had a hunch that the presence of different species of meat in the same manufacturing facility contributes to cross-contamination, leading to unintentional mislabeling. The studies proved their hypotheses to be true, and more: the scientists also found that lower-cost species were intentionally mixed in with higher-cost species for financial gain.

In the study on identification of species found in ground meat products:

  • 10 out of 48 samples were found to be mislabeled
  • 9 contained additional meat species
  • 1 was mislabeled entirely
  • Two of the samples tested positive for the presence of horse meat, which is illegal to sell in the U.S. [1]

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