Supermarket chicken scare

The 'fresh' supermarket chicken that flew in from Brazil months ago

When you next buy a chicken sandwich or a basted turkey, it might be wise to think twice about it – supermarkets are stocking thousands of tonnes of apparently fresh poultry meat that is imported and often months old.

As the amount of meat being imported from Brazil and Thailand increases, so does the likelihood that foods labelled ‘fresh’ are actually anything but. Once it reaches Britain, importers can keep cooked meat, uncooked birds and poultry pieces in cold store.

Meat in ready meals could be many months old, and may have been thawed and frozen a number of times. The meat is safe but information on labels about its origin is frequently unclear. Lord Rooker, the Food and Farming Minister, backs a campaign to clarify labelling rules so that consumers do not buy a sandwich made from thawed meat when they think it is fresh.

European Union rules gives no time limit on the use of ‘fresh’, and the European Commission admits new labelling rules are required.

After the meat production workers union, Unite, revealed that 80% of chicken sandwiches were made from imported meat, Lord Rooker has asked supermarkets to back home-produced poultry.

Last year, Britain imported 83,000 tonnes of Thai chicken meat out of 127,700 tonnes imported into the EU.

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