A new study on ground meats sold in the United States has revealed that more than a whopping twenty percent are mislabeled. Chapman University’s Food Science Program put commercial ground meat like bison and lamb to the test in two separate studies that revealed surprising results. Some ground meats were mislabeled, and other specialty meats included horse meat – which is illegal in the commercial market in the U.S. – beaver meat and other unusual species, raising ethical and health concerns.
Chapman’s studies are the first meat surveys in the United States since 1995. The first of Chapman’s studies took on 48 different samples of mixed frozen and fresh specialty ground meats from online retailers, testing their content. Of the 48, ten were found to be totally mislabeled, containing a mix of species, including two with horse meat. Mixing of meats from different processors could mean cross contamination as well as a risk of unmonitored processing, like with horse meat, which is not USDA regulated. On the bright side, all ground beef tested came back as 100% ground beef.
The other study focused on higher-priced specialty game meat, rounding up 54 samples from online retailers. Again, ten specimens were mislabeled, with specialty meats such as bison, yak, pheasant and bear actually containing pieces of cattle, guineafowl and the very uncommonly-eaten American beaver.
Aside from deceiving American consumers by selling an inexpensive product under the guise of specialty products, the study also causes alarm on the safety of the food we consume. Transparency in the supply chain ensures consumers have both the choice of what they eat and regulated and inspected food.