Tests to spot ‘organic’ labelling fraud

Friday, 19 May, 2006


New tests, developed for the Food Standards Agency by the UK's Government Central Science Laboratory, were completed last year and have been checked using samples of pork and chicken bought.

The tests are able to detect the presence and number of treatments of antibiotics in chicken bones or pork bones. This indicates one aspect of whether the chicken or pork has been reared organically or using non-organic farming methods.

The use of antibiotics is permitted in organic chicken and pork only once a year, to cure infection, whereas conventionally reared chicken and pork might show the use of antibiotics more frequently.

The tests will also indicate when antibiotics have been used more systematically " and illegally " on the animals as a growth promoting agent.

Most mislabelling fraud will, however, continue to be detected by local authority enforcement officers checking a "paper trail' to indicate if claimed organic produce has really come from an authentic source.

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