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Meat labels misleading EU consumers, says watchdog report

Many meat products across the EU have been mislabeled, according to a recent report. Despite increased scrutiny since a 2013 horsemeat scandal, products still have unlisted additives or a different kind of meat.

Shoppers across Europe may be getting more - or less - than they bargained for in their meat, warned the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) in a report on Wednesday. After collecting data from seven European Union countries, they found that unclear, incomplete, or incorrect labels on meat-based products are misleading consumers.

"Results showed a large number of discrepancies - and in some cases vast differences - between what the labels said and what the products were actually made of," said the BEUC report. Some products tested contained less meat than stated on the label while others had unlisted additives or had been pumped with water.

"Consumers buying roast pork or grilled sausages should know from the label how much meat they really contain. No one wants to buy water for the price of meat," said Monique Goyens, director of BEUC, in a statement. The organization is calling for EU authorities to greatly improve their labeling checks and to actively detect and punish those who commit fraud.

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The investigations were conducted from April 2014 to August 2015 by national consumer groups in Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Belgium, and the UK.

40 percent of lamb dishes like curries or kebabs in the UK actually contained beef or chicken, with some samples containing no lamb whatsoever. In the Netherlands, testers found that a single piece of meat was actually a mixture of different parts.

Food in the EU has been highly scrutinized after

a 2013 scandal

where undeclared horsemeat was found in burgers, lasagna, and other beef products. Millions of products were then recalled from supermarkets.

"If we are serious about rebuilding confidence in meat, EU member states need to beef up controls and make sure labels are complete and accurate," asserted Goyens.

rs/rc (AFP, dpa)

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