The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the results of its targeted surveillance sampling of retail food products for 2022, and found that 81 percent of foods tested were compliant with regulatory requirements. As this was a targeted sampling program, results are not representative of UK food safety as a whole.

FSA conducts targeted surveillance sampling of retail food products to help identify emerging food safety risks. For the survey, a total of 1,215 food samples from 28 different food commodity types were collected and tested, including frequently consumed foods and food types that would inform FSA’s knowledge of risk.

The remaining 19 percent of foods were deemed noncompliant for a range of reasons. For example, undeclared allergens were detected in 16 percent of 267 foods tested, including more than one-third of prepacked products for direct sale, and one-fifth of bread products. African spices were highlighted as a concern for undeclared allergens, with 27 percent tested containing undeclared peanut protein.

Regarding contaminants, the presence of mycotoxins exceeding maximum levels was detected in nine percent of herbs and spices tested, mostly in nutmeg.

Authenticity testing was carried out on 437 samples, and the main commodities with authenticity issues identified were oregano, with 13 percent of samples containing other leaf types, and basmati rice, with 10 percent of the basmati rice samples reported as containing other rice varieties in addition to or instead of basmati rice. Overall, the food authenticity rate for all samples tested was 97 percent.

Compositional analysis was carried out on 689 samples, and 58 were reported as unsatisfactory for reasons such as fat content exceeding permitted limits and meat products containing meat contents that were too low. Additionally, olive oils did not meet appropriate compositional characteristics in 11 percent of samples tested. The survey also reviewed 999 food labels, 7 percent of which were deemed as unsatisfactorily labeled.

Following the results of the survey, FSA has made available funding for local authorities in England and Northern Ireland to sample direct-sale prepacked foods and spice blends for allergens.