Bogus meatballs busted by DNA tests

Some meatballs on sale in Hong Kong are not all they seem, the Consumer Council warned on Monday, with squid found in those said to be cuttlefish, and pork in balls masquerading as beef.

The council said it ran tests on 60 samples of meatballs from supermarkets and noodle shops, finding that more than 60 percent of those labelled beef contained DNA from pigs.

In two cases, there was even more pig in the balls than cow, while five of the supposedly beef meatballs were predominantly chicken.

Ten samples of “lobster balls” were also tested. Not a single one contained any crustacean DNA.

Meanwhile of 10 cuttlefish ball samples checked, seven contained squid DNA, with one found to have no cuttlefish in it whatsoever.

Gilly Wong, the chief executive of the council, urged people who don’t eat certain meat products to buy raw meat instead of meatballs.

“If you have very strict religious belief on dietary requirements, for example, if you only can take beef or if you can only take pork, probably it is more wise for you to buy raw beef and raw pork for you to cook meatballs or maybe cook in different styles yourself,” she said.

Wong said the council has passed its DNA test results to the Customs and Excise Department to investigate whether there have been any breaches of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. She also called authorities to step up enforcement to ensure the accuracy of ingredients listed in food products.

Meanwhile, the council found that 75 percent of the meatballs were high in sodium, with fish balls having the most.