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'Most undeclared meat not harmful'

Professors from WC universities discussed the meat mislabelling scandal in Parliament.

Many of the undeclared meat specimens found in some food products were not harmful to the consumer.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Universities on Tuesday said many of the undeclared meat specimens found in some food products were not harmful to consumers.

According to a study by Stellenbosch University, up to 68 percent of meat products tested had traces of donkey, goat and water buffalo.

The institutions presented their findings before a joint portfolio committee meeting by the Department of Agriculture, trade and industry and health in Parliament, Cape Town.

The mislabelling of meat products was also discussed.

Stellenbosch University Professor Louw Hoffman said poor people were most at risk by mislabeling.

He says many high-end supermarkets pay a fortune for DNA testing to make sure they delivered good products.

But the same cannot be said for small retailers supplying the poor, Hoffman added.

The professor called on the Health Department to provide a budget for these tests in an effort to protect people who cannot afford securely tested meats.

However, the Health Department's Mandisa Hela said these tests come at a high price.

She said the department conducted its own research, but the findings did not include the quantity of undeclared meat found in products.

Meat mislabelling has also been reported in the United Kingdom and Europe.