A Bradford councillor insists West Yorkshire is being better protected than other parts of the country, after tests revealed more than a third of food samples were not what they claimed to be or were mislabelled.
Tests of 900 samples by West Yorkshire’s public analyst, for the five West Yorkshire councils, including Bradford, showed 38 per cent were misleading.
The findings, reported in a national newspaper, indicated that consumers were being sold mozzarella which was less than half real cheese, ham on pizzas that was either poultry or “meat emulsion” and frozen prawns that were 50 per cent water.
Testers also found beef mince adulterated with pork or poultry and a herbal tea which was actually glucose powder laced with a withdrawn prescription drug for obesity.
West Yorkshire public analyst Dr Duncan Campbell told the newspaper: “We are routinely finding problems with more than a third of samples, which is disturbing at a time when the budget for food standards inspection and analysis is being cut.”
Bradford Councillor Val Slater, who is chairman of West Yorkshire trading standards committee, told the Telegraph & Argus that the county’s councils had always amalgamated trading standards services, including the public analyst.
“That has allowed us to be more proactive and continue to focus on these issues, whereas in many areas of the country that isn’t the case and they don’t have the same resources. So to some extent the public in West Yorkshire is better protected than other areas,” she said.
Coun Slater (Lab, Royds) said the committee received a report from the public analyst about food samples every three months.
The results reported at the weekend were a culmination of quarterly reports over the last 18 months.
The areas were not broken down, but would include cases from Bradford, she said.
She said the cheese and pizza problem had been ongoing over the last year, and another issue where “icing” on cup cakes was found to be plastic and inedible had been 18 months ago.
Coun Slater said: “Often the labelling of products is very complex and businesses don’t understand the requirements. It is about being vigilant.
“Trading standards offer advice to businesses and if a sample is found to have an issue we will work with the businesses to correct it.”
Councillor Andrew Thornton, executive member for environment, sport and sustainability on Bradford Council, said: “The findings of this report are shocking.
“Consumers need to have confidence that the food they eat is what it says it is on the label and that it is safe.
“West Yorkshire councils have retained a testing programme through an effective shared service, when some others have not, but this is a national issue that needs a Government response and properly resourcing right across the country."