'Lean' mince 'can contain more fat'
So-called "lean" mince sold in supermarkets can contain up to 25% fat - more than the standard alternative, according to a study.
Consumers are being let down by misleading and inaccurate labelling, some of which massively understates the true amount of fat, the research by Local Government Regulation (LG Regulation) found.
There was "encouraging" evidence that the overall average fat content of minced beef had fallen from 15.7% six years ago to 12.3% now.
However, the fat and gristle content of some minced beef varied to such an extent between retailers that consumers faced an impossible task understanding what they were buying, with some "lean" or "extra lean" products proving more fatty than standard mince.
Environmental health and trading standards officers analysed minced beef products from nine supermarket chains.
The sample of products from Asda contained on average 27% more fat than was suggested on the label, compared with mince from Iceland that had 10% less fat than advertised.
The survey found the best quality minced beef is sold at butchers' shops, although it was more likely to be contaminated with other meat.
LG Regulation is now calling for consistency in the naming of beef products and advice for shoppers to understand what they are buying.
LG Regulation chairman Paul Bettison said: "When it comes to labelling minced beef, confusion reigns supreme. For a consumer to try to purchase a product with a specific fat content, the chances of them getting what they want are a bit of a lottery.
"Minced meat is one of the country's most popular food products, yet the millions of people who eat it every week would no doubt be shocked to learn that a packet of lean steak mince may contain more fat than steak mince."