Processors caught beefing up chicken
By Felicity Lawrence in London
May 22 2003
Food processors have been caught on video boasting that they have developed undetectable methods of adulterating the chicken that goes into British hospitals, schools and restaurants with cheap beef waste and water.
Tests by a television program have also shown that samples of an own-brand label of chicken nuggets sold by the British supermarket chain Sainsbury's contain bovine and pork DNA. The company says the bovine DNA comes from milk protein and the presence of pork DNA in one sample may be the result of contamination in the laboratory.
Secret filming for BBC TV's Panorama revealed that vast quantities of frozen chicken coming into Britain each week have been injected with beef proteins.
Working with The Guardian, the program went undercover to find the source of the beef proteins. BBC reporters were told by Dutch manufacturers that beef DNA can now be manipulated in such a way that the safety authorities' tests cannot detect it.
Adulterated chicken has been imported widely by British wholesalers. Brakes, a leading supplier to schools, hospitals and restaurants, has unwittingly imported chicken with beef DNA, laboratory tests for the BBC found.
On the program, to be shown in Britain today, a German protein supplier for huge Dutch chicken companies tells undercover reporters his firm, Prowico, has developed high-tech methods to break down the DNA of the proteins so much that no government tests can detect the beef.
The proteins are hydrolysed and mixed into additive powders which are then injected into chicken meat to hold extra water, thus vastly increasing profits. Tests have found that some chicken fillets are as much as 50 per cent added water.
The owner of Surplus, the Dutch company that blends the Prowico proteins into powder, tells undercover reporters the industry has been extracting hydrolysed beef proteins to inject into chicken and other meats, including ham, for more than 10 years.
Prowico says the original source of the beef is cow hides from Brazil. It admits it does not test its beef for BSE, but says Brazil is BSE-free and that hides do not carry a BSE risk.
However, the British Government's leading BSE adviser, Professor Roy Anderson, warns that since beef is known to carry disease, any use of undeclared beef proteins is unacceptable.