This is why nearly 20 percent of food standards tests carried out in Lancashire last year ended in failure

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Almost one in five food products tested by Lancashire trading standards officers last year failed - because they were not of the quality consumers should have been able to expect.

Of the 290 samples taken of food stuffs on sale across the county, 52 items - or 18 percent - did not meet what are known as “compositional standards” designed to ensure products purchased for consumption are accurately labelled and contain ingredients that match their description.

Meanwhile, over the last four years, tests found the same proportion of food being served up by Lancashire’s takeaways and cafes contained allergens that the items had been explicitly advertised as being free from.

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Ingredients that customers would have believed were absent from what they were eating showed up in 37 of the 204 samples carried out over the period - again, nearly a fifth. Their presence could have prompted dangerous allergic reactions in some cases.

The likes of beefburgers should have a certain amount of meat in them (image: Pixabay)The likes of beefburgers should have a certain amount of meat in them (image: Pixabay)
The likes of beefburgers should have a certain amount of meat in them (image: Pixabay)

The alarming figures were revealed at a recent Lancashire County Council meeting at which members heard about the work of the authority’s public analyst, who operates alongside its trading standards and scientific services teams to ensure food bought by Lancashire consumers is both safe and correctly described. To that end, County Hall carries out an annual sampling programme.

The compositional standards that so many of the county’s food businesses were found to have fallen foul of last year include so-called ‘reserved descriptions’ for some foods, which can only be used if a product has a certain make-up.

For instance, anything labelled as a ‘beef burger’ must contain at least 62 percent beef, while an ‘economy beef burger’ must be made up of at least 47 percent of the meat that gives the item its name. Similar minimum meat content requirements cover the likes of sausages, meat pies, pasties and corned beef.

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Other reserved descriptions set out standards for products including chocolate, jams, milk and bread.

Cabinet member for health and wellbeing Michael Green said any “adverse results” from food samples taken in Lancashire are followed up by trading standards - and the food business concerned is offered “advice and support”.

“A business not showing adequate improvements may then be subject to a full investigation and potential enforcement action,” County Cllr Green explained.

On the issue of incorrectly labelled allergens, he said they were a “key priority due to the obvious safety concerns and consequences should a food business get it wrong”.

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He told the meeting that several businesses had been successfully prosecuted over the issue with costs of over £5,600 being awarded against them.


The county council’s public analyst and scientific services team also support Lancashire’s 12 district councils in the aspects of food safety which they are responsible for monitoring.

County Cllr Green cited an example of their collaboration back in 2019 involving an investigation into a screw being found in an onion bhaji bought from a Lancaster takeaway.

The meal was analysed and the evidence that was gathered led to a successful prosecution, with the owner of the outlet being fined nearly £16,000.