Canadian Study Identifies Off-Label Meat in 1 in 5 Sausages
Funded by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), University of Guelph researchers have conducted the first-ever Canadian study examining sausage mislabeling. The study examined 100 sausages that were labeled as containing just one ingredient — beef, pork, chicken or turkey.
Published on July 31, 2017 in Food Control, the study found cross-species contamination of meat ingredients in 20 percent of sausage samples from grocery stores across the country. Highlights of the study include:
The predominant meat species were determined in sausage samples using DNA barcoding.
Five turkey sausage samples contained chicken as the predominant species.
Contaminant meat species were detected using digital droplet PCR.
Undeclared species were detected in beef (6%), chicken (25%), and pork (5%) sausages.
Real-time PCR assay revealed that one pork sample contained horse meat.
CFIA states that the goal of the study was to explore whether CFIA might be able to employ scientific methods employed by the researchers – such as DNA barcoding and real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assays – in its regulatory practices as it concerns product mislabeling. CFIA says that the scientific tools show promising results. It remains to be seen whether these findings will prompt CFIA to launch a broader study of this issue and, ultimately, whether the CFIA will consider regulatory measures that incorporate such testing to assure that food product labels are truthful and not misleading.