Buckinghamshire Trading Standards officers have completed a year’s intensive investigation into food fraud and authenticity in the County.
In the wake of the horse meat scandal in 2013, Buckinghamshire County Councillors agreed an extra £50,000 should be spent ensuring the food sold to Buckinghamshire’s residents was genuine.
The results of the investigation during the year have been published in the Trading Standards annual food tests review. They range from a survey of children’s ready meals, through testing of takeaway kebabs and burgers, to fruit juice sampling and tests on olive oil and durum wheat owing to poor harvests.
Trading Standards Manager Amanda Poole said the additional funding for 2013/2014 had enabled the team to make the best use of intelligence and public reports in targeting areas where officers suspected there would be most cause for concern.
A major investigation into meat takeaway products found that in almost half of the samples tested contained meat other than that specified. Follow-up work with traders has focused on compliance with correct labelling.
Tests on soft drinks uncovered in some samples the presence of high levels of Benzoic Acid and ‘Southampton Six’ colours, which is linked to children’s hyperactivity.
Trading Standards officers also investigated evidence of aflatoxin contamination – fungal growth in imported food products, which could lead to liver damage. They found toxins in two samples that triggered product recalls, two samples in which aflatoxins were present, and five samples with incorrect labelling.
Martin Phillips, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: ‘I want to ensure our residents have every confidence that we are alert and active about the safety of the food we eat. Our Trading Standards team do an outstanding job ensuring food authenticity with thorough investigation and testing.‘