Supermarkets selling frozen chicken breasts full of water and additives
Frozen chicken breasts pumped with water and additives isn’t new to the more knowledgable consumer and the practice isn’t illegal, as long as the packaging is accurately labeled.
It also isn’t illegal to inject chicken with beef and pork proteins to retain more water as long as it is labeled as "hydrolised proteins".
However water and additives now make up nearly a fifth of the meat according to an investigative report published by the Guardian.
Consumers who shop for frozen chicken breasts at leading supermarkets like Asda, Aldi and Iceland are actually forking out 65p a kilo for the water contained in the meat.
The report also revealed that Asda and Aldi have 18 per cent added water in their chicken, while Iceland and the Valley brand in Sainsbury's has 15 per cent.
The raw poultry that already has salt or mix of corn oil and salt added is imported from Brazil - because the processed chicken is cheaper and has a lower EU tariff than untreated chicken.
The chicken then under goes through still another process at the Westbridge Food Group where it is ‘tumbled’ with water and water-binding additives in cement like mixer, to become part of their own-label discount ranges.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) states that it is illegal in the EU to reprocess frozen chicken preparations unless they are cooked or being made into composite products.
The regulations are however open to interpretation on whether the chicken is defined after tumbling as a 'preparation' or a 'product' as it no longer retains the characteristics of raw meat.
The supermarkets believe that they are not breaking any of the regulations concerning their frozen chicken breasts.
After the Guardian’s probe, the FSA is now asking Westbridge for more information on its processes so that it can determine whether the chicken meets legal requirements.
A spokesman for the FSA said: "This is a complex area of EU food law which, as the European commission itself has acknowledged, is subject to interpretation. The FSA is investigating and working with local authorities to visit relevant premises in the UK to identify the precise legal status under regulations."