Rotting meat hidden with marinade, survey finds

A survey of marinated meat sold by butchers across the north east of England region has found a “worryingly high” proportion of the meat was “off”.

The research by Food Safety Officers on behalf of local authorities, sampled marinated meat from 33 shops across the region, with 24 samples showing signs of putrefaction, confirming investigators’ fears that marinades were being used to mask the taste and smell of meat that was starting to go off.

Only a third of the samples, 33%, were found to be using fresh meat, while more than half, 51%, showed the first signs of putrefaction.

In Gateshead alone, six out of the seven samples taken were found to be showing signs of putrefaction, with officers reporting the meat had “an off taste and smell was discernible by some people”.

Out of the total sample, 15% across the north east, and 14% in Gateshead was found to have been so putrefied that its sale breached Section 14 of the Food Safety Act 1990.

All of the samples tested were on open sale, albeit at premises where Food Safety Officers already had concerns.

Anneliese Hutchinson, head of development and public protection at Gateshead Council, said: “The findings of this survey are very worrying. We were aware of anecdotal evidence suggesting that some unscrupulous butchers were covering raw meat which had begun to turn with marinades to sell for meals including stir-frying and barbecues. The intent is to blatantly use the strong flavours of the marinade to mask the fact that the meat smelled and tasted ‘off’.

“We targeted those premises where we had most concern and discovered that two-thirds of the samples taken were so putrefied that they should never have been offered for sale.

“We have therefore issued a clear warning to the offending butchers that selling meat like this, which does not meet the legal standard, is a criminal offence and any further offence will result in prosecution. We will closely monitor these premises in the future.”

Gateshead council said it would not be naming the butchers tested in the survey, but if further issues were found, prosecutions would be carried out and the butchers named.