SUPERMARKETS ARE padding out fresh British pork with water and then adding nearly 40p/kg to the price, a survey by Shropshire Trading Standards has revealed.

The snapshot survey, carried out in the Shropshire stores of some of the country‘s leading supermarkets, found that some products contained no more than 87% meat.

“The practice of adding water to ham and chicken products is already commonplace but, until now, at least consumers could be sure that raw meat was genuine,” said David Walker, Shrops, chief Trading Standards officer.

“This is being sold alongside genuine raw pork, causing confusion for shoppers.”

The meats surveyed all displayed a quality assurance stamp – either the MLC pork logo or the little red tractor logo – with some items displaying both images.

The average cost of a pork loin steaks was £6.92/kg, while the average cost of pork loin steaks ‘with added water‘ was £7.30/kg.

The Trading Standards Institute is now pressing the Food Standards Industry to intervene and halt the process which it fears may become commonplace.

“Experience has shown that once individual companies adopt a marketing practice of this sort, the practice very quickly spreads,” said Mr Walker.

“This could be the thin end of a very thick wedge.”

But not all parties are concerned by the practice which they feel is benefiting the consumer and ultimately pork sales.

“The aim is to improve the eating quality of meat. It‘s actually a costly process,” said Stewart Houston, chairman of the National Pig Association.

“The issue has been raised before and the FSA are happy with the process and happy with the current labelling of these products.

“This has been consumer researched and is meeting a consumer need,” added Mr Houston.