Apparently 63,000 tonnes of imported chicken is being served in the UK that has been pumped up with water and proteins to make it appear heavier and bigger.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is looking into poultry that is being imported from the Netherlands which contains as much as 35% water. This meat, however, was described as having a meat content of 80%.
It is not illegal or unhealthy to add water or animal protein to chicken, however, under EU regulations, consumers must be informed about what has been added. This is often the case in supermarkets, however, it is very seldom that restaurant and canteen menus provide such information.
The FSA is discussing whether to step-up inspection of chicken products at ports and to order a wider survey of chicken on sale to the catering trade.
The agency will raise the issue with the Dutch authorities and is also expected to report its concerns to the European Commission.
“As part of a routine survey work we are currently investigating a small number of possible cases of mislabelled chicken from the Netherlands being sold in the UK. The cases concern the levels of water and protein added to the chicken,” said the FSA. “The product in question was destined for the catering trade and there is no suggestion it was unfit for public consumption. We will be talking to the Dutch authorities and will take appropriate action as necessary once our inquiries are complete.”
A spokesman for the FSA stressed it was not a health issue. “It is about labelling,” said the spokesman.
David Pickering, a spokesman for the Trading Standards Institute, said: “If someone is selling chicken with added water as chicken, that is fraud because people are paying chicken prices for water and a product that does not taste any good.”