News Release Archive

Scientists at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College are devising a
way to tell if the ground meat in the package is what is really
claimed on the label.

This promising technology should provide better protection to
consumers by ensuring that they are getting what they pay for at
the meat counter.

The protein identification method was refined by professors at
the Protein Biochemistry Research Laboratory at the college in

As part of their research, scientists tested 453 samples of
ground meat bought in over 130 grocery stores throughout the
province. Using the special ID technology, scientists determined
that 18 per cent of the ground meat samples were either
mislabelled or mixed, the majority of which were beef mixed with
pork or pork mixed with beef.

"This process, when perfected for widespread use, will give
consumers greater confidence that they are getting what they pay
for at the meat counter," said Susan Horne, spokesperson for the
Department of Agriculture and Marketing. "Other jurisdictions
will be looking at this procedure, refined in Nova Scotia, to
provide consumers with greater comfort that what the label says
is really in the package."

Dr. Jeff Scott, Chief Medical Officer for the province, said the
issue is one of consumer choice not a health problem. However, he
reinforced the need for consumers to follow proper procedures
when preparing any perishable food.

"Ground meat is a perishable product so it should be used within
three or four days, making sure it is stored and/or defrosted in
the refrigerator; preparation areas and utensils should be
cleaned with hot soapy water," he said.

He said that cross-contamination between raw and cooked products
should be avoided and the ground meat should be cooked properly.
"Ground meats should be cooked until the juices are clear and
there is no pink color remaining in the meat."

Dr. Charles LeBlanc, Agriculture and Agri Food Canada, said:
"Mixing of beef and pork is the main concern outlined in the
report. Further testing will be required to validate the extent
of the problem. This may be the result of careless practices
during packaging and can be easily corrected."

To immediately address the findings, the results of the study
have been shared with other government agencies and the Canadian
Council of Grocery Distributors. Food packaging and labelling of
products at all levels comes under federal legislation.

All key players in the industry are working together to identify
the cause and find solutions.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Backgrounder available by contacting Susan

Contact: Susan Horne          902-424-5719

         Dr. Charles LeBlanc  506-851-2634

trp                        June 25, 1996 - 4:06 p.m.