A butcher told West Sussex investigators: “Well, goat is the same as sheep isn’t it?”
The response came from one of the butchers quizzed in an investigation by West Sussex Trading Standards Service.
The check revealed that some of the county’s butchers are selling meat described as “goat” which is actually from sheep.
Trading Standards Officers went undercover to make test purchases after a consumer complained the goat meat he bought was sheep.
Peter Aston, Trading Standards team manager, said: “The results were concerning. 11 samples of what was described as goat meat were purchased covertly from outlets in the county. In eight cases, DNA tests on the meat found it to be from sheep.”
Initial enquiries have shown that in the majority of cases (six), the problem is with the wholesaler/abattoir rather than the retailer.
However, in one case the butcher concerned told the Trading Standards Officer, “well goat is the same as sheep isn’t it?”
Mr Aston added: “Once butchered, goat meat is very difficult to tell from mutton or lamb which is why proper traceability and labelling is vital.
“Goat meat can sell for around £1 per kilo more than equivalent cuts from a sheep, so there is some financial advantage to be gained.”
David Barling, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection said: “This work shows how important it is for the public to let us know of their concerns.
“From a single consumer complaint, a widespread problem has been identified that won’t just be affecting West Sussex.
“Our Trading Standards Officers will certainly get to the bottom of what has been going on and are sharing their findings with the Food Standards Agency.”
If you want to let Trading Standards know of a case of suspected meat substitution you can do so by calling Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 or online atwww.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport