Trading standards officials have launched an investigation into sales of ordinary meat being labeled as organic.
Inquiries have begun this week with visits to markets where meat will be removed, on behalf of the Food Standards Agency, to test the quantity of antibiotics in meat to see if it is a genuine organic product.
A spokesman for the Trading Standards Institute said “we have believed for some time there are some strange things happening in the organic food market. The problem is that it is very difficult to see any physical differences between organic and conventional meat.”
Organic meat can sell for up to five times as much as ordinary meat, for example an ordinary chicken worth £2 – £3 can sell for £10 – £11 if labeled as organic. It’s no surprise that rogue traders are seeking to make money from it.
The investigations come from reports last year in Sidston that a local market trader was fined for re-labeling ordinary beef as organic. In a neighbouring area a producer was allegedly selling organic sausages as a famers’ market. Using a more limited procedure than the new tests officers were able to establish that his claims were false. Lawrence Platt, an organic beef farmer from Westfield, is in full support of this investigation. He said “It’s a scam that must be stopped.”
The campaign is supported by the Soil Association which their members produce 70% per cent of the organic food grown in this country. A spokesman said “we would ask people to report dubious traders, either to us or Trading Standards, Shoppers should be able to have confidence in all the genuine traders in organic produce.”
Spot checks will be carried out on a regular basis and traders suspected of fraud will be brought before the courts and could face fines of up to £5,000 for each offence if they’re found guilty.